Drew Peterson's attorneys file appeal challenging his conviction

January 13, 2014 8:28:55 PM PST
Drew Peterson's attorneys have filed an appeal challenging his conviction.

In a 55-page brief, Drew Peterson's attorneys argue that his conviction for the murder of his third wife Kathleen Savio should be thrown out and that he should be given a new trial.

The appeal, filed in the far West Suburban Third State Judicial Circuit, argues that the Will County Court made many errors during the trial in the summer of 2012 that led to a jury finding the former Bolingbrook Police Sergeant guilty of murder.

The lead argument in the appeal involves Divorce Attorney Harry Smith. Peterson's attorneys argue that because Savio and Peterson's missing fourth wife Stacy both had hired Smith, anything they told him was protected by attorney-client privilege. The privilege, which survives after the death of a party, means Smith could not divulge what they had told him in court. Also by calling Smith to the witness stand, Peterson argues that he received ineffective counsel. The appeal argues that the defense tactic actually helped the prosecution's case against Peterson.

The conviction led Peterson to dump his lead attorney, Joel Brodsky. The appeal also claims Brodsky committed a conflict of interest with a media deal. It argues Brodsky was more concerned about his fees than defending Peterson.

Other errors include testimony for Stacy Peterson's pastor. The appeal claims that testimony violated the clergy-parishioner privilege. The court admitted hearsay evidence that was previously found unreliable. The court failed to follow procedural rules when they allowed prosecution witness Jeffrey Pachter to take the stand without giving the defense adequate notice to prepare. And despite the jury's verdict, the appeal argues that the prosecution failed to prove their case beyond a reasonable doubt.

Peterson has always maintained that Savio accidentally drowned in the bathtub and that he did not play a role in the disappearance of his fourth wife Stacy.