Drew Peterson Murder Trial: Jurors head home after 1st day of deliberations

September 5, 2012 8:54:43 PM PDT
About an hour and a half after starting their first day of deliberations, jurors in the Drew Peterson murder trial had three questions for the judge.

They asked Judge Edward Burmila for phone records between the Peterson household and his third wife, Kathleen Savio, in the days leading up to her death; for transcripts of testimony from two witnesses -- Stacy Peterson's pastor and Savio's divorce attorney, whom Stacy Peterson called; and Savio's police report and letter written to the state's attorney alleging Peterson threatened her.

Judge Burmila denied the request for transcripts, but said they will be read aloud in open court. The phone records will be sent to the jury; and more information was requested from the jurors about what they are looking for in the police report, of which only part was read.

The jury responded, and the judge sent a copy of the handwritten statement police report. They also asked for autopsy, bruise, bathroom and crime scene photos. All those allowed into evidence will be sent to the jurors, despite defense objections.

The first question came at 11:10 a.m.; the case was handed over to the seven men and five women at 9:37 a.m.

Peterson, 58, is charged with first-degree murder in the death of his third wife, Kathleen Savio. Savio's death was originally ruled an accident, but the case was reopened and her body was exhumed after Peterson's fourth wife, Stacy Peterson, disappeared in 2007.

Peterson, a former Bolingbrook police sergeant, maintains his innocence. If found guilty, he faces 20 to 60 years in prison.

Weighing six weeks of testimony, jurors will have to determine if Savio was the victim of a homicide.

Prosecutors believe Peterson killed Savio and then made it to look like an accident. Their medical experts testified that her death was a homicide. The defense argued it was an accident and their medical experts testified that Savio fell in the tub and drowned.

"If they get past that hurdle and they believe that state has proved homicide beyond a reasonable doubt, they have to prove issues like how he got into the house, how committed this crime. All questions which this they did not answer," Joel Brodsky, defense attorney, said. "If they are going to convict in this case, it has to be on circumstantial evidence, supported by here say. It will not be an easy decision to make, I'm sure."

"Jurors often work backwards. There might be more likely to think about a homicide -- they might be more likely to think it was a homicide if they think he did it. The jurors will talk about it. If this is a homicide, who else could it be? If they decide it was a homicide, I think he will be found guilty," Alan Tuerkheimer, jury consultant, said.

Prosecutors relied heavily on hearsay evidence in the case, calling friends of both Savio and the still missing Stacy Peterson.

Court was adjourned around 6:20 p.m. Wednesday and jurors headed home for the night. They were not sequestered overnight. They will resume deliberations at 9 a.m. on Thursday.


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