The defense team

Joel Brodsky, the defense attorney for Drew Peterson, talks to reporters after Wednesday's court proceedings. (Phil Velasquez, Chicago Tribune / August 22, 2012)

"He told me this was something that I would take to my grave," Pachter said.

But Pachter, a convicted sex offender who owed the IRS $35,000 and had tried to borrow $1,000 from Peterson to cover gambling debts, told a friend about the offer within a week. The friend contacted police after Peterson's fourth wife, Stacy, vanished in 2007 and Savio's death, which had been handled as an accident, was reinvestigated.

The stone-faced Peterson seemed so calm during the 30-minute conversation that Pachter couldn't tell if he was serious, Pachter said. He has previously testified he thought the $25,000 offer was a joke.

"I didn't know what to make of it," Pachter said Wednesday.

Peterson offered no further instructions beyond telling him that he could negotiate the fee with the hit man and then keep any leftover money for himself, Pachter testified.

Though Peterson told him that Savio worked at Red Lobster, he did not give him a picture, a name or a home address to help put the plan in motion, Pachter said.

Pachter said he didn't act on the plan and that the two men didn't discuss it again until eight months later, when Pachter called Peterson to touch base and learned about Savio's death.

"He proceeded to tell me that everyone was doing fine. Then he said, 'The favor that I asked you, I don't need it anymore,'" Pachter said.

Judge Edward Burmila didn't allow Pachter to testify that because he worked in a high-crime area of Joliet that Peterson asked him to find a hit man.

Prosecutors also called Master Sgt. Bryan Falat of the Illinois State Police on Wednesday to bolster their theory that the 2004 investigation into Savio's drowning death was botched.

Falat, who in 2004 was a trooper temporarily assigned to investigations, testified that the circumstances of Savio's death "raised my suspicions right away" and that he expressed his view that "this could possibly be a homicide."

His boss at the time, Sgt. Patrick Collins, has testified he relied on the opinion of crime scene investigator Robert Deel and handled the case as an accident.

Falat told jurors that he pointed out to Deel a used condom in the waste basket in the bathroom where Savio died. Deel previously testified he wasn't informed of the condom, didn't see it himself and didn't take it as evidence.

And when Collins told him they would interview Peterson in a break room at the Bolingbrook Police Department, Falat said he objected and suggested a state police interview room instead.

"We don't usually interview people where they're comfortable or where they work," he testified.

Falat said Peterson was cooperative and "almost jovial-like" as they interviewed him in the department's break room. "He was joking, he was getting along with us," Falat testified.

The following day, Falat said Collins told him Peterson would be present when they interviewed Stacy Petersonat their Bolingbrook home.

"I told Sgt. Collins that I did not think it was a good idea that Drew was in the same room as Stacy during the interview," he said. "We never interview two people in the same room."

But the interview went ahead, with Peterson sitting less than a foot from his wife as she was questioned. Collins previously testified that he granted Peterson a "professional courtesy" as a fellow police officer.

Savio's next-door neighbor, Nick Pontarelli, told jurors about what happened the weekend the woman who "was like a second mother to me" was found drowned. His testimony was briefly halted after a juror informed the judge he recognized Pontarelli.