Drew Peterson murder trial under way in Joliet

July 31, 2012 (JOLIET, Ill.)

A clean-shaven Drew Peterson appeared in court Tuesday as the session began with prosecutors presenting their opening statements at 9 a.m. By 11 a.m., those inside the packed courtroom had already witnessed some drama.

Peterson is accused of murdering Kathleen Savio in 2004. Her death was ruled a drowning initially, but after Peterson's fourth wife, Stacy Peterson, disappeared in 2007, investigators reopened the case, and Savio's death was ruled a homicide.

As lead prosecutor James Glasgow gave his opening statement Tuesday, he started to tell jurors that Peterson offered a friend $25,000, but defense attorneys cut him off, stopping him from saying that it was intended as hit money. Jurors were sent out of the courtroom. Peterson's defense asked for a mistrial, but it was denied.

Prosecutors told jurors that Drew Peterson killed Savio and made it look like an accident.

They also went into detail about Peterson's alleged extra-marital affairs and outlined how much he and Savio had in marital assets, $800,000. The prosecution closed by asking jurors to use their skills to come up with the conclusion that Peterson killed his third wife, despite the lack of DNA evidence.

Peterson's defense attorney said his team would convince jurors that Drew Peterson did not do anything.

"I am confident. Joel [Brodsky, Peterson defense attorney] has been working hard on his opening statement. He has a lot to tell the jury. He's going to tell the jury how Drew has been a public servant all his life and how this was just an accident," said defense Attorney Steve Greenberg.

Peterson has not been charged in the disappearance of Stacy Peterson.

For the Savio murder trial, prosecutors planned to call several witnesses Tuesday, including a few of Savio's neighbors who will likely testify she was afraid her estranged husband would kill her.

The prosecution's case is largely based on hearsay testimony, circumstance evidence, and expert witnesses, which means they have a daunting task ahead of them.

"The challenges for the prosecution, of course, are overcoming the fact that there is no eyewitness and no smoking gun, no DNA, anything like that. The challenges for us are just in overcoming the perception that they were getting divorced and it is just too coincidental," said Greenberg.

The defense team started its opening statements at about 10:45 a.m.

Afterwards, the prosecution is expected to present its case.

Copyright © 2024 WLS-TV. All Rights Reserved.