Ruling will delay start of Drew Peterson trial

November 30, 2011 (CHICAGO)

The former Bolingbrook police sergeant is charged in the drowning death of his third wife Kathleen Savio.

Wednesday morning's ruling stalls Peterson's already delayed trial and leaves open the issue of how much hearsay evidence can be presented when he goes to trial.

The headline here is that prosecutors were thrown a life ring today by the state supreme court. Although it is not yet clear if it will be enough to save their case against Drew Peterson.

At issue: Nearly a dozen statements prosecutors wanted admitted as evidence against the former Bolingbrook cop. They were meant to show Peterson had a financial and emotional motive to kill his third wife Kathleen Savio.

But the statements included conversations Peterson's fourth wife Stacy Peterson had with others before her disappearance. It was dubbed "testimony from the grave" and the Will County state's attorney hand-crafted legislation in Springfield to allow it.

Normally, a defendant has the right to confront his accuser, but "Drew's law" allows hearsay testimony when it can be shown a witness disappearance may be directly related to the to the testimony he or she was going to give.

Drew Peterson's attorneys are fighting tooth and nail to keep those statements from being heard at trial. And an appellate court ruled the statements were "out." But it was on a technicality; Will County prosecutors missed a filing deadline.

Wednesday morning, state supreme court justices ordered the appellate court to make a ruling. So the gate is opening again to the possibility that damning hearsay evidence may be heard at Drew Peterson's murder trial.

The bottom line is, it will probably be a month or so before the appellate court rules on whether the hearsay statements will be allowed, so a springtime start for a trial is looking more likely. By then, Drew Peterson will have been locked up nearly three years.

The statements are key because we haven't heard of much physical evidence physically linking Peterson to Kathleen Savio's death. She was found in a bathtub. It was originally ruled an accidental drowning.

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