Drew Peterson is ending the protracted battle over hearsay statements and is signaling he's ready to go to trial in the slaying of his ex-wife Kathleen Savio.
In a motion sent to the Third District Appellate court today, Peterson's attorneys say they will not fight a recent higher court ruling allowing prosecutors to use previously excluded hearsay statements at the former Bolingbrook police officer's murder trial.
The defense asks that the appellate court send the case back to Will County courts as soon as possible, essentially waiving the 35-day waiting period to formalize a ruling.
The move reflects a renewed effort by the defense to downplay the significance of the hearsay statements, which prosecutors say will allow Peterson's ex-wives' to speak from the grave.
"We are not appealing because we want to get this case moving," Peterson attorney Joel Brodsky said. "Drew has been locked up long enough and we are ready to go to trial."
Will County spokesman Charles Pelkie said prosecutors are "ready to move forward at trial. The sooner the better. We’re ready to go.”
The trial, which prosecutors said could begin as early as this spring, has been postponed almost two years while appeals over the statements from Peterson's drowned ex-wife, Savio, and missing fourth wife, Stacy Peterson, wound their way through the higher courts.
During the appeals, the trial court judge retired and a Lifetime movie about the case starring Rob Lowe as Peterson was made and aired to stellar basic cable ratings.
Peterson, 58, is charged with killing Savio, who was found dead in her dry Bolingbrook bathtub in 2004. Her death was ruled an accidental drowning, but prosecutors exhumed Savio's body and reopened the case after Peterson's fourth wife vanished in 2007.
Peterson remains the sole suspect in Stacy's disappearance but has not been charged. He has denied any wrongdoing in either case.
Will County State's Attorney James Glasgow largely has built his case around pathology reports and 14 hearsay statements that he says would allow Savio and Stacy to speak from the grave. He even pushed for a new Illinois statute — dubbed Drew's Law and passed in 2008 — that he argued was needed to ensure the statements could be heard.
A three-judge panel of the Third District Appellate court ruled earlier this month that while Judge Stephen White correctly applied the new law, the statute itself was "manifestly erroneous" and superseded by existing — and much broader — Supreme Court rules of evidence.
It found that eight statements excluded by the trial judge are allowed under existing Illinois common law, which does not require safeguards for reliability.
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