Peterson gets a hearing date in bid for new trial
BY JANET LUNDQUIST SUN-TIMES MEDIA January 10, 2013 11:28PM
FILE - In this May 7, 2009 file booking photo provided by the Will County Sheriff's office in Joliet, Ill., former Bolingbrook, Ill., police officer Drew Peterson is shown. Peterson is charged with first-degree murder in the 2004 drowning death of his former wife Kathleen Savio. Opening statements in his trial are scheduled to begin Tuesday, July 31, 2012. (AP Photo/Will County Sheriff's Office, File)
Updated: January 10, 2013 11:29PM
After months of sniping by his attorneys and the filing of inflammatory motions, Drew Peterson finally has a court date in his bid for a new trial.
On Thursday, Judge Edward Burmila set Feb. 19 and 20 as the dates for Peterson’s hearing. If Burmila denies his motion, Peterson’s sentencing hearing will begin immediately.
Peterson was convicted of murdering his third wife, Kathleen Savio, in September.
In December, Peterson attorney David Peilet filed a memo in Will County Circuit Court supporting the defense team’s claims that former lead attorney Joel Brodsky had a conflict of interest and ineffectively assisted Peterson during his trial.
Brodsky denied those claims.
A response from prosecutors to the memo and a motion filed by Peterson’s attorneys was filed and sealed Wednesday.
The motion from Peterson’s lawyers claimed, among other things, a number of errors on Brodsky’s part during the trial.
During the hearing for a new trial, Peterson’s lawyers Steve Greenberg and Joseph “Shark” Lopez and Brodsky may have to take the stand.
Prosecutors initially objected to the idea of Greenberg and Lopez serving as both witnesses and attorneys for Peterson, but Burmila said it is legal for them to do so in that situation.
After the court appearance, Lopez said all of the issues in their motion for a new trial have the potential to win a new trial for Peterson.
“Evidentiary issues, hearsay, privileged information, ineffective assistance of counsel,” Lopez said. “The calling of Harry Smith is probably the issue that’s first and foremost in the public eye.”
Smith, who represented Savio in her divorce from Peterson, testified that Drew’s fourth wife, Stacy, told him that Peterson killed Savio. Stacy Peterson has been missing since Oct. 28, 2007, shortly after she told her husband she wanted a divorce. Drew Peterson is considered the main suspect in Stacy’s disappearance. She is presumed dead, but her body hasn’t been found.
Several jurors said Smith’s testimony sealed the guilty verdict.
Peterson’s lawyers have said the decision to call Smith was a bad one — made by Brodsky. But Will County State’s Attorney Jim Glasgow pointed out that Peterson’s team publicly stated it was part of their strategy to call Smith to discredit Stacy Peterson.
“Never in the history of Will County has a defendant marshaled the legal resources that Drew Peterson had,” Glasgow said. “There isn’t anything whatsoever to substantiate ineffective assistance of counsel when you have eight lawyers.”
Glasgow said he plans to present the same evidence at Peterson’s sentencing hearing that came out during the 2010 hearsay hearing.
Stacy’s sister, Cassandra Cales, attended the court appearance Thursday.
“I like coming to see Drew and the effects the jail does to him,” she said outside the courthouse. “Today he’s very old-looking. Seeing him shackled up makes me feel good. He’s not in control.”
Cales thinks Peterson will face charges in Stacy’s disappearance.
“Justice will be served for Stacy,” she said. “And I won’t go anywhere until it is.”