Drew Peterson returns to court, gets new judge
Drew Peterson (top right) is led to the Will County Courthouse for a hearing Friday, May 4, 2012, at 14 W. Jefferson St. in Joliet. | Matthew Grotto~Sun-Times Media
Updated: July 9, 2012 1:44AM
It’s been 11/2 years since Drew Peterson’s been seen in a Will County courtroom, and within moments Friday he was in trouble with a bailiff.
Sheriff’s deputies led the former Bolingbrook cop, bearded in a blue prison jumpsuit and wearing rounded glasses, into Judge Sarah Jones’ courtroom. As he entered, the bailiff gave her standard admonition to a small courtroom full of reporters and sketch artists: no talking to prisoners.
Peterson waved to the crowd and said, “That would be me.”
The quip earned him a warning from the bailiff — she said he was being inappropriate — but already Peterson was sending a message: He’s still Drew.
Even though he’s been locked away since 2009 awaiting trial on murder charges for the drowning death of his third wife, 40-year-old Kathleen Savio, he seemed to be in good spirits.
“Drew is very happy that he can see the light at the end of the tunnel,” said his attorney, Joel Brodsky.
But Brodsky couldn’t say Friday when Peterson’s trial will begin. An Illinois appellate court handed Peterson a defeat last month, prompting his return to the Will County courthouse. His attorneys only said they’re looking for a trial in the next two or three months.
Peterson, 58, didn’t get a chance to banter or wise-crack with reporters outside the courthouse as he’s done in the past. Deputies pulled a transport van up to the prisoner entrance to try to block cameras’ view as they whisked him into the building.
Friday’s hearing gave attorneys a chance to “get our feet under us,” as one defense lawyer put it, now that the appeal is finished. Jones assigned Peterson’s case to Judge Edward Burmila, who will preside over the trial because Peterson’s last judge retired. Burmila is a former state’s attorney who lost the office to Jim Glasgow, Peterson’s prosecutor, 20 years ago.
Defense attorneys told Burmila they would file motions to further challenge prosecutors’ evidence; and Burmila set another hearing for May 17.
Defense attorney Brodsky said they’re not done fighting the hearsay statements now allowed by the Appellate Court. The disputed evidence includes statements purportedly made to other people by Kathleen Savio and Peterson’s fourth wife, Stacy.
Stacy Peterson vanished from their Bolingbrook home in 2007 and hasn’t been seen since. Peterson is still a suspect.
Prosecutors said the evidence ties Drew Peterson to Savio’s death. At least some of the purported statements are explosive, including claims Stacy Peterson made to a friend and to her minister that her husband coaxed her to provide an alibi for him on the night Savio drowned.
But defense attorneys said prosecutors have no evidence; and they called the hearsay statements “rumors.”