Judge denies mistrial, paramedics testify in Drew Peterson murder trial

August 2, 2012 (JOLIET, Ill.)

Peterson is charged in the murder of his third wife, Kathleen Savio. Thursday's first witness, Bolingbrook paramedic Louis Oleszkiewiz, talked about responding to Savio's home and finding her body in a bathtub.

"She felt cold to the touch and dry," Oleszkiewiz said. He testified that he did not see a blue towel that appears in photos of the bathroom taken after paramedics left the crime scene. Three other paramedics testified that the towel was not there, as well. The prosecutors are trying to show that the scene was staged after they left to look like an accident.

Prosecutors had planned to call Savio's divorce attorney, but decided against it due to legal issues.

Judge denies mistrial, neighbor's testimony stays

The paramedics' testimony came right after Judge Edward Burmila denied a motion for mistrial by Peterson's defense.

"It's going to be an unfair trial if you let this go on," defense attorney Steven A. Greenberg said Thursday.

Judge Burmila disagreed, saying he believes that "everything [was] taken into account" by the court, and denied the motion for mistrial.

The defense had originally asked for that mistrial on Wednesday, but the judge held off on making that decision to give the defense time to think about another option-- striking all testimony from the witness in question. On Thursday, the judge decided removing that testimony was "too severe." Instead, Judge Burmila instructed the jury to disregard only part of the testimony- where Thomas Pontarelli spoke about finding a bullet on his driveway and said he believed it was an intimidation tactic from Peterson.

"They are trying to show everyone is afraid of Mr. Peterson," Greenberg said Thursday. "What evidence do they have that he did something? ... They want everyone to think he's a bad man."

The state said they did not try to "mislead the jury" and called asking for a mistrial "absurd" on Thursday. Assistant State's Attorney Chris Koch said, "...State is entitled for a fair trial just like the defendant, we are asking you to deny motion for mistrial we are ready to proceed today."

Earlier Thursday, Peterson defense attorneys said they believe the prosecution is intentionally trying to get a mistrial so they can start the case over.

Will County State's Attorney James Glasgow denied that charge, saying the suggestion was "false" and anything the defense says out of court is "unprofessional." He said, "The court made the right decision. We're prepared to move straight ahead."

"It was good to see the judge not bow to what appeared to be the screaming demands of the defense attorneys," Pam Bosco, spokesperson for Stacy Peterson family, said.

Neighbor lets slip testimony about locks, bullet

At issue: on Wednesday former Savio neighbor Thomas Pontarelli let slip testimony the defense claimed irreparably tainted the jury. Pontarelli told the courtroom he once found a .38 caliber bullet in his driveway he believed was planted there by Peterson to intimidate him.

Earlier Pontarelli told jurors Peterson once told him not to help Savio change the locks on her doors while the couple was splitting up.

The testimony led to a recess and the jury was dismissed before lunch.

Savio's case was reopened after Peterson's fourth wife, Stacy Peterson, disappeared in 2007. Peterson is considered a suspect in Stacy's disappearance, but has not been charged. Her body has not been found.

Peterson denies any wrongdoing in either case.

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