By Matthew Walberg, Stacy St. Clair and Steve Schmadeke
Chicago Tribune reporters
6:02 PM EDT, August 14, 2012
Continual coverage of the trial of Drew Peterson for the murder of his third wife, Kathleen Savio.
4:50 p.m. Glasgow defends integrity
An angry Will County State’s Attorney James Glasgow stopped briefly to speak with the media outside the courthouse as he and his assistants made their way back to their offices across the street.
"My office always stands ready to protect the integrity of the process in every case that we try," he said. "We stand ready to appear in court tomorrow morning to receive the judge's desicion and proceed with this trial."
4 p.m. 'Avalanche of prejudicial evidence'
In arguing for a mistrial, defense attorney Joel Brodsky said the trial has been filled with “an avalanche of prejudicial, illegal evidence” and the case should be thrown out.
Brodsky asked that the judge declare a mistrial with prejudice, which would mean Peterson could be freed and could not be tried again. Prosecutors vehemently argued against the move.
Judge Edward Burmila said he was surprised that Peterson only wanted a mistrial if he is freed and not retried.
Prosecutors apologized to the judge for the error, but said it could be remedied by telling jurors to disregard mention of an order of protection.
3:50 p.m. No mistrial ruling today
Judge Edward Burmila says he will take mistrial motion under advisement and issue a ruling Wednesday morning.2:55 p.m. Mistrial options
A judge has several options for declaring a mistrial. The case could be tossed completely, what is called mistrial with prejudice, or a mistrial without prejudice could be declared, which would allow the state to retry the defendant with a new jury, experts said. Throwing the case out completely is extremely rare, experts have said.
2:25 p.m. Another motion for mistrial
For the third time in as many weeks, the judge is considering mistrial in the Drew Peterson murder case. He has given prosecutors until 3 p.m. to come up with an appropriate response for their latest mishap.
The judge had ordered prosecutors not to make any mention of an order of protection during questioning of former Bolingbrook police officer Teresa Kernc because it’s too prejudicial to the jury and because Kathleen Savio did not obtain an order of protection against Peterson at that time. Kernc was testifying about interviewing Savio after an alleged threat made against her by Peterson in 2002.
Just minutes into her questions, assistant state’s attorney Kathleen Patton asked Kernc if she suggested getting an order of protection to Savio. The question prompted an objection from the defense, and after the jury was escorted out of the courtroom, a strong rebuke from Judge Edward Burmila.
Burmila seemed incredulous, at times laughing in apparent frustration, after the misstep.
"You interjected order of protection into this case when I said don’t do that," he said. "There was only one thing I said you can’t go into and that’s exactly what you did."
Burmila said this would be the third time he would need to instruct the jury to disregard a prosecutor’s misstep and to do it a third time it may impact the state’s ability to get a fair trial.
He gave prosecutors until 3 p.m. to propose a remedy.
Patton, who apologized repeatedly and sounded shaken, offered various explainations for asking the question, including forgetting to cross it off a list of questions she’d written this morning.
"I can’t believe I did it," she told the judge, later adding, "It’s me judge, it’s me."
After the courtroom cleared, Patton walked to an empty courtroom nearby and stood alone, looking dejected, leaning against the jury box.
Defense attorney Steve Greenberg asked for a mistrial with prejudice — meaning the case would be dismissed, saying prosecutors had "went right through the wall" of an order Burmila had issued two hours ago.
2:15 p.m. 'I can't hurt you'
In July 2002, Bolingbrook police officer Teresa Kernc went to Kathleen Savio’s home with another officer, who is now deceased, to take a report from Savio.
Kernc testified that she believed Savio’s two sons were living at the residence, but were at camp at the time.
"Yes, I knew who she was married to. She was married to the defendant," Kernc said from the witness stand.
The interview with Savio took place in the living room, Kernc said.
"Well, I asked her to tell me why she had called. And she proceeded to tell the reason. She said that on July 5th, she had taken her two sons to day camp in the morning and gone to the market, and when she returned from the market, she entered her home and returned upstairs to collect her laundry — she was going to do laundry. As she came down the stairs, she saw the defendant dressed in his SWAT uniform and black gloves coming from the living room into the foyer.
"He pushed her down on the stairs, and when she tried to rise, he pushed her down again. He told her she was a mean bitch, she wouldn’t speak to him when he called, wouldn’t speak to her when he brought the boys over, and he was going to speak to her now. He spent the next three and a half hours going through their life, trying to get her to say things were her fault.
"He asked if she was afraid of him or scared, and she said yes she was. She said that she got tired of sitting there on that stairs and she told him, ‘Go or do what you came to do — kill me.’ And she said he said, ‘Where do you want it?’ And she said in the head. And he took his knife out and told her to turn her head, and she did and then waited and then he said, ‘I can’t hurt you.’
"He got up at some point and looked outside…He looked out the window. She said that he was very tired and upset that day and, um, he asked her are you going to call the Bolingbrook police?"
1:45 p.m. Former cop, current mayor takes stand
The trial resumed this afternoon with the second witness of the day, former Bolingbrook police officer Teresa Kernc, who retired as a lietenant in 2005. She is the mayor of the Village of Diamond, about 60 miles southwest of Chicago.
She took a police report from Kathleen Savio after Drew Peterson allegedly threatened Savio with a knife.
12:05 p.m. Lunch break
Testimony is scheduled to resume at 1:15 p.m. after a break for lunch.
11:55 a.m. Alleged statement by Peterson barred
In a second motion, the defense tried to block testimony from Stacy Peterson's aunt, Candace Aikin, and Aikin’s friend Donna Badalamenti. They were expected to tell the jury that the defendant said that as a result of his training as a police officer, he could kill someone and make it look like an accident. Drew Peterson allegedly made the statement after Kathleen Savio’s death.
Prosecutors argued that not only could they show Peterson had the training necessary, but that his alleged statement shows he was confident he could do it.
But Judge Edward Burmila sided with the defense, saying that because the statement did not refer to Savio, it was too general and therefore too prejudicial.
11:50 a.m. Cop can testify about Savio statement
The jury was out of the courtroom for nearly an hour as attorneys argued over whether a Bolingbrook police officer who took a written statement from Kathleen Savio about an alleged break-in at her home by Peterson would also be able to testify about oral statements Savio made.
The officer is expected to say that Savio told her that in July 2002, Drew Peterson surprised her at her home and forced her to sit and talk with him for three hours. The officer will say Savio told her she told Peterson to just "do what he came to do," to which he responded "Where do you want it?"
When Savio said he should shoot her in the head, he said he could never kill her and then pulled out a knife before leaving.
The defense argued that the state should not be allowed to use both the written statement or the more expansive testimony from the officer, but Judge Edward Burmila ruled that the officer would be allowed to tell jurors about her conversation with Savio.
10:45 a.m. Lab's testing under scrutiny
Dr. Christopher Long admitted his lab found the base compound of aspirinin Kathleen Savio's liver in 2007 that was not found in 2004, as the defense tried to show his lab's testing was incomplete.
On redirect, Long said the reason no further testing for the compound was done in 2007 was because none was found in the tests three years earlier and because the chemical is a natural byproduct of decomposition.
"Unless they start taking aspirin while they're in the coffin, there ain't no way it's going to be there," Long said. "If it's not there in the start, it can't be there in the end."
10:10 a.m. Pointed questions from defense
Cross examination by defense attorney Darryl Goldberg quickly became testy as Goldberg tried to draw out testimony that the forensic pathologist has testified almost exclusively on behalf of prosecutors for most of his career.
Dr. Christopher Long repeatedly tried to explain his answers, prompting a sharp comment from the defense attorney.
"Doctor, maybe it's the way I'm asking the questions, but the answer is 'yes,' or 'no,'" Goldberg snapped, prompting an objection from prosecutors.
Judge Edward Burmila overruled the objection.
"The defense is entitled to a yes or no answer," Burmila said to Long. "The state will have an opportunity to redirect your testimony if they choose."
9:55 a.m. Savio tested for toxins again in '07
PathologistChristopher Long said his lab was asked to retest samples from Kathleen Savio in November 2007, and traces of methadone, amphetamines and the base compound found in aspirin were found.
But Long said such results are common when testing older tissue, because those chemicals are the natural byproduct of decomposition.
After further testing, the lab again determined Savio's liver did not contain any drugs or other toxins that caused or contributed to her death.
Long added that no evidence of anti-depressants was found in Savio's liver in either the 2004 or 2007 tests.
9:45 a.m. Today's witnesses: Stacy's aunt, friend
Dr. Christopher Long is the first witness this morning and is expected to testify about Kathleen Savio’s 2004 and 2007 toxicology results.
Other potential witnesses today include Candace Aiken, Stacy Peterson's aunt; Donna Badalamenti, a friend of Aiken's; Scott Rossetto, a friend of Stacy Peterson; and Illinois State Police investigator Bryan Falat.
Aiken and Badalamenti testified at a hearing in 2010 about statements Drew Peterson allegedly made about how he could kill someone and make it look accidental and also a reference to killing himself if his marriage to Stacy did not work out.
Scott Rossetto, a friend who traded raunchy text messages with Stacy shortly before she disappeared in 2007, testified at a pretrial hearing that Drew Peterson coaxed her into providing a false alibi for the weekend of Savio's death.
Falat testified at a hearing in 2010 that Drew and Stacy Peterson appeared to be lying in interviews with state police after Savio's death. But Falat said his concerns were ignored.
"Quite honestly, I was sort of disgusted with" how the investigation was handled, Falat said in 2010.
Stacy Peterson appeared "scripted" and often looked to Drew Peterson when she was unsure of an answer, Falat testified previously.
9:30 a.m. Pathologist: No toxins found in Savio
The first witness this morning is forensic pathologist Christopher Long, who told jurors his lab was contacted to perform tests for toxic drugs and other substances on samples taken from Kathleen Savio in 2004.
Long said his lab tested Savio's liver — where toxins are most likely to be found in the greatest concentration — and found nothing.
"We ran it twice, and they (the tests) were both negative."
6:45 a.m. Prosecutors to call forensic pathologist
Prosecutors in the Drew Petersonmurder trial this week will attempt to clear the first hurdle in their case — convincing jurors that the former Bolingbrook police sergeant's third wife was murdered.
Kathleen Savio, 40, was found drowned in her Bolingbrook bathtub in 2004. A coroner's jury ruled her death an accident, but her body was exhumed in 2007 not long after Peterson's fourth wife, Stacy, vanished. Prosecutors believe Peterson, 58, killed Stacy, but he has not been charged.
Peterson's trial in Savio's death is scheduled to resume Tuesday, the start of the third week of testimony in the case.
This week, prosecutors plan to call Dr. Larry Blum, a forensic pathologistfrom Rockford who has performed more than 9,000 autopsies, to testify about the 2007 Savio autopsy. Blum ruled that Savio's death was a homicide based on the pattern of injuries he found on her body.
Another pathologist for the state, Dr. Michael Baden, did a third autopsy and came to the same conclusion. Peterson was charged with Savio's murder two years after the autopsies.
The pathologist who performed an autopsy the day after Savio's body was discovered died two years ago. Last week, a police officer testified at trial that Dr. Bryan Mitchell told him he thought Savio's death should have been labeled as having an "undetermined" cause.
Defense attorneys have their own panel of expert pathologists who say Savio's death was a household accident. Dr. Jeffrey Jentzen has testified previously that all of the injuries on Savio's body could have been caused by a fall in her bathtub or in the normal course of her day.
Prosecutors have said they believe Peterson held his ex-wife in a sleeper hold until she lost consciousness and then held her head underwater in her bathtub until she drowned. He then struck her on the back of the head, perhaps with his police baton, to make her death look accidental.
Even if jurors believe Savio's death was a murder, there is no physical evidence tying Peterson to it. Prosecutors are attempting to build a circumstantial case — Peterson and Savio were still fighting over the financial settlement in their divorce — and want to introduce hearsay statements on Savio's behalf.
It remains to be seen what hearsay statements will be heard by jurors. Judge Edward Burmila opened the door to jurors hearing more hearsay in a ruling last week, but he also said he will decide which statements get in on a case-by-case basis.
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