"I think the only thing left to make this case run true to form," he told Burmila, stopping to take a tissue and wipe his nose, "would be a cruel and unusual punishment. And I don't think anybody would care, because nobody cares. I can't believe I spent 32 years defending a constitution that allowed this to happen to me."
It's not uncommon for a defendant to lash out against those who put them behind bars. It is rare, however, for defendant to offer a long, extemperaneous speech that both walks the court through the evidence and ilicits angry outbursts from the victims' families.
Peterson accused the state's attorney's office, state police, Savio's family and even Lifetime TV of being part of various conspiracies to wrongfully convict him. Last year, Lifetime TV aired a movie about Peterson with Rob Lowe playing the suburban police officer. Peterson said the "ridiculous movie" denied him a right to a fair trial and included statements he'd made to state police.
He said he took full responsibility for his press appearances, which created a media firestorm after his fourth wife, Stacy, disappeared in 2007 and included talk of a "Win a Date with Drew" contest on the radio.
"I'm an obnoxious man by nature, truly," Peterson said. "And after 30 years as a police officer, as is normal with police officers, my defense mechanism is comedy. The media took that and capitalized on that, and my obnoxious nature shone through."
Peterson, who smirked at the state police officers who investigated him as he was brought into the courtroom, appeared to struggle to keep his composure on the witness stand. His right hand shook at times as he held forth, clutching some papers in his left hand.
"But I want to assure the court that at no time did I want to portray any insensitivity about Kathy's death," he said, turning to address Burmila. "That was not my intention."
Peterson also took aim at Glasgow, who tapped his fingers at the prosecutors table and at one point asked a colleague "Is he done?" during Peterson's speech.
"Mr. Glasgow, all aspects of my life have been destroyed. Everything from my personal life to my professional life to my social life — all aspects have been destroyed," he said as Glasgow sighed loudly. "And I tell you this to give you greater cause for celebration, when you celebrate the fact that you perpetrated the largest railroad job in the history of this country."
Peterson later asked Glasgow to look him in the eye and "never forget my face … never forget what you've done here."
Glasgow, who stared at Peterson until he finished, later said he had "never seen a more pathetic display than today."
Doman said she didn't have any choice but to respond to Peterson in open court.
"I wasn't going to take the devil," she said. "I wasn't going to let him say that. People tell me I shouldn't have reacted, but I had to defend my sister."
Savio's brother Henry Savio Jr. was later kicked out of the courtroom after shouting "That's a lie right there" when Peterson said he paid for Savio's funeral. Peterson responded that he had a receipt.
"I was going to be a good guy but after a while I couldn't take it," Savio Jr. said outside court. He read a victim impact statement in court, saying that he hoped his sister's murder would haunt Peterson.
"I pray that during the last minutes of his life, he is able to clearly see her and she is watching his descension into hell," Savio Jr. said.
Prosecutors believe Peterson also killed Stacy and urged Burmila to consider that when sentencing Peterson, which the judge said he declined to do.
Defense attorneys asked the judge to consider Peterson's history of public service and health problems like high blood pressure, high cholesterol and what Peterson called "borderline diabetes."
As Peterson sat at the defense table with a crumpled tissue in front of him, Burmila spoke of how jealousy was as old as Cain and Abel and that Peterson's 2004 drowning of Savio in her bathtub, was carried out in stealth, "in dark of night," and had been planned in advance, intended to protect Peterson's assets in a bitter divorce battle with Savio.
Peterson spoke into an attorney's ear as Burmila handed down the 38-year sentence. He had faced 20 to 60 years.
In a case with a large number of legal peculiarities, lawyers on his defense team are confident their client will win a new trial on appeal.
"We're done with this part of it, and we'll move on to the appeal," defense attorney Steve Greenberg said. "And we'll see you all here again in a couple of years."