Drew Peterson trial updates: Prosecution might wrap up case Friday
Joel Brodsky, the defense attorney for Drew Peterson, talks to reporters after Wednesday's court proceedings. (Phil Velasquez, Chicago Tribune / August 22, 2012)
Will County Sherrif's Department spokesman Ken Kaupas said Ruby was seated in the gallery when he locked eyes with Peterson and mouthed the words, "(expletive) you."
Peterson told his attorneys, and the act was also witnessed by a sheriff's department official.
Ruby was immediately escorted out of the courthouse and is barred from returning, Kaupas said.
9:50 a.m. Prosecution irks judge
Judge Edward Burmila is upset with the prosecution for allegedly misleading him about what the Rev. Neil Schori is expected to say on the witness stand.
Burmila has left the bench, demanding a transcript of testimony from Schori during a 2010 pretrial hearing, where Schori said that Drew Peterson’s fourth wife, Stacy, told him Peterson returned home late, dressed in black and carrying a bag of women’s clothing shortly before Kathleen Savio was found dead.
9 a.m. Minister could be called to the stand
Among the witnesses who could be called today is the Rev. Neil Schori, who counseled Drew Peterson's fourth wife Stacy before she disappeared. But the defense is expected to object to his appearance on the stand.
Prosecutors want to call Schori to testify that Stacy Petersontold him during a pastoral counseling session that she saw her husband return home late, dressed in black and carrying a bag of women's clothing, not long before Peterson's third wife, Kathleen Savio, was found dead.
His testimony is critical to the prosecution because another witness who said he heard a similar story from Stacy Peterson was not allowed to testify last week because of missteps by the state.
Schori's account would be the strongest piece of evidence prosecutors have introduced so far that could show Drew Peterson behaved suspiciously the weekend Savio died. No physical evidence or eyewitness account ties him to the alleged murder, which a coroner's jury initially ruled was an accident.
Peterson's attorneys long have sought to bar Schori from the trial, but Judge Edward Burmila has ruled that marital privilege does not apply to his testimony because Stacy Peterson was relaying what she saw, not what she heard. Burmila has indicated that he still must decide whether the testimony is relevant to the case.
6:45 a.m. Jurors hear hit man testimony
Knowing a co-worker needed money to settle gambling and tax debts in 2003, Drew Peterson casually offered him $25,000 to find a hit man to "take care of" his third wife, Kathleen Savio, that associate testified Wednesday.
The Bolingbrook police sergeant did not dictate how or when he wanted Savio killed, said Jeff Pachter, who met Peterson at his side job as a cable installer. Peterson's only condition was that he be warned before the slaying took place so he could arrange an alibi, Pachter told a riveted Will County jury that spent recent days listening to dry forensic and medical evidence.
Though the judge barred prosecutors from arguing that Peterson tried to put a hit on Savio just four months before her death, the testimony allows them to show he wanted her dead. The implication could play a pivotal role in the largely circumstantial case, where no physical evidence connects Peterson to the alleged crime and the defense suggests Savio slipped in her tub and drowned in 2004.
During the November 2003 conversation — which Pachter said took place in Peterson's squad car after the defendant invited him to ride along on patrol — the sergeant shared his alleged alibi plans. Peterson described how he could leave the country or go to Six FlagsGreat Americain Gurnee on the prescribed day and get into a scuffle to establish his whereabouts around the time his third wife was killed, Pachter said.
On the actual weekend of Savio's death in March 2004, prosecutors allege Peterson took his family to the Shedd Aquarium and kept numerous receipts. Authorities found the unwrinkled receipts in a red folder more than three years later.
Pachter told jurors that Peterson — who warned him to keep the alleged hit quiet — wanted his wife dead because she had information that could cost him his police job.