Peterson pretrial hearsay hearing ends

Drew Peterson

February 23, 2010 4:51:32 AM PST
Next week, a judge is expected set a date in the murder trial of former Bolingbrook police sergeant Drew Peterson.

Peterson is accused in the 2004 murder of his third wife, Kathleen Savio.

The pretrial hearing on what hearsay evidence will be allowed in the murder trial ended Friday after both sides gave closing arguments. Prosecutors spent weeks calling witnesses to testify about what they were told of Savio's death by Peterson's fourth wife, Stacy, who is missing. Peterson is also a suspect in Stacy's disappearance, but has not been charged in the case.

The judge is expected to announce his decision in the hearsay hearing only after seating a jury in the murder trial.

Pathologist: Savio's death no accident

A renowned pathologist said the 2004 death of Drew Peterson's ex-wife was not an accident.

Dr. Michael Baden was the last of 70 witnesses called during the hearing on what hearsay evidence can be admitted during Peterson's murder trial. The former Bolingbrook police sergeant is accused of killing his ex-wife Kathleen Savio in 2004.

Dr. Baden was not allowed to talk to reporters as he left the hearing Friday. The world renowned forensic pathologist performed an autopsy on Savio in 2007. He said it's "extremely rare" for a healthy adult to drown accidentally in a bathtub and wasted no time in telling the court Savio was murdered.

"In my opinion this is a homicide in which she drowned and was beaten up, had multiple injuries, which does not happen from drowning alone," said Dr. Baden. Baden said Savio's toes were pressed against the side of the bathtub as if she were struggling, not as if she'd fallen and knocked herself out.

Peterson's defense team went on the attack and accused Baden of bias. They contend the network news consultant reached the conclusion to please his TV news bosses and went so far as to allow a TV news producer help him with the autopsy on Savio by taking photos and moving the body.

Baden's testimony was expected to be the culmination of three weeks of testimony in a hearsay hearing in Peterson's murder case. The hearing is to determine what hearsay evidence -- including statements made by Savio, according to prosecutors -- a judge will allow a jury to hear. Most of the testimony has been from almost 70 witnesses called to support the prosecution's contention that Savio's death was a homicide-- not an accident, as it was originally ruled in 2004.