Drew Peterson’s new life as an Illinois Department of Corrections inmate has begun.
Peterson was transferred this morning to the Stateville Correctional Center near Crest Hill, where he was evaluated for placement based upon factors such as his conviction, length of sentence, program needs and medical and mental health requirements.
Peterson stayed at Stateville only a few hours before being sent to his new home at Pontiac prison northeast of Bloomington, a maximum security facility that has a protective custody unit. The assignment was based upon factors such as his conviction, length of sentence, program needs and medical and mental health requirements, per Illinois Department of Correction protocol.
Officials have not said whether he has a cellmate or if he will be in solitary confinement like he had been during his jail stay.
As part of his daily routine there, he will remain in his cell for most of the day, though he will be allowed out for meals and showers. Most inmates also get about five hours of recreation time outside per week, Illinois Department of Corrections spokesman Stacey Solano said.
The Will County jail – which had held Peterson in solitary confinement since his May 2009 arrest for his own safety – had the paperwork prepared for his transfer by the time he returned from his sentencing hearing Thursday, officials said.
The sheriff’s department, which oversees the jail, kept the former Bolingbrook police sergeant segregated from the general population there amid concerns that his high-profile case and law-enforcement background would make him a target of inmates looking to build tough-guy reputations.
Jail supervisors began preparing Peterson at 8:30 a.m. and he left without incident by 9:22 a.m., officials said.Drew Peterson wanted to make sure he was heard when he was given one last chance to speak Thursday, shortly before being sentenced to 38 years in prison for the murder of his third wife, Kathleen Savio.
Declining to speak from the defense table, where there was no microphone, the former Bolingbrook police sergeant shuffled to the witness stand in his jail-issued blue scrubs and orange shoes and began quietly.
"I hope I don't aggravate the situation," he turned and told the judge. Then Peterson screamed into the microphone, "I did not kill Kathleen!" startling almost everyone in the courtroom.
"Yes, you did!" Savio's sister Sue Doman yelled back from the gallery, prompting Will County Circuit Judge Edward Burmila to order her out of the courtroom.
It was an odd end to a case replete with oddities and circuslike sideshows. For the next 40 minutes, Peterson cried, raged and whispered, challenged the state's attorney to look him in the eye and indulged in self-pity as he unleashed his multitudinous thoughts like a character in a Dostoevsky novel.
The 59-year-old said he expects to die in prison. Barring any successful appeal, he won't be eligible for release until he's 93.
Peterson claimed that lies and mistakes by witnesses, prosecutors and police led to his conviction, and made disparaging remarks about Savio's family, attorneys and others involved in the case. His defense attorneys called the monologue an impassioned plea for leniency, but prosecutors said it was proof that Peterson is a psychopath.
"When he got up on the stand and (in) that shrill, kinda-feminine screech that he didn't kill Kathy — that's the guy that killed Kathy," Will County State's Attorney James Glasgow said. "You got a glimpse into his soul."
But in describing himself on the stand Thursday, Peterson said he was maligned and misunderstood.
"Until this happened, I thought I was viewed as a great guy," Peterson said, giving a litany of public and private good deeds before announcing he planned to tattoo the phrase "No good deed goes unpunished" across his shoulders.
"The state took an accident and staged a homicide," Peterson said, before turning to the judge. "Can I get some water?"
Once refreshed, Peterson said he had upheld the oath he swore when he became a police officer.
"I always took my job seriously, I never violated the public trust," he said, his voice husky with emotion before quoting one of the Ten Commandments. "And I never beared false witness against anyone."
"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."