Drew Peterson denied release from jail pending appeal

Drew Peterson leaving court in 2009. (Zbiginiew Bzdak/Tribune)

The Illinois Supreme Court has denied Drew Peterson’s request to be released from jail while prosecutors appeal a critical aspect of his high-profile case.

The defense already had lost similar efforts at the trial, appellate and state supreme court levels, but Peterson's team argued its position was strengthened this more by the fact that prosecutorial appeals had delayed his trial for more than a year.

Proceedings were halted on the eve of trial nearly 14 months ago when Will County State's Attorney James Glasgow appealed a judge's ruling barring several hearsay statements that Glasgow says would help convict Peterson in the death of his third wife, Kathleen Savio.

At the time, Glasgow acknowledged that his 11th-hour legal maneuver could lead to Peterson being freed.

Peterson, 57, is charged with killing Savio, who was found dead in a dry bathtub in 2004. Officials initially ruled the death an accidental drowning, but authorities reopened the case after Stacy Peterson, Peterson's fourth wife, disappeared in October 2007.

Drew Peterson has not been charged in Stacy's disappearance, though he remains a suspect. He denies wrongdoing in both cases.

Illinois law states that "a defendant shall not be held in jail or to bail during the pendency of an appeal by the state ... unless there are compelling reasons for his continued detention or being held to bail."

In asking the trial judge to keep Peterson in jail last July, Glasgow said Peterson is a threat to society because he killed both wives to prevent them from testifying against him.

"I don't know what could be more compelling," Glasgow said.

The prosecution's position is bolstered by the fact the trial judge ruled that the ex-Bolingbrook police sergeant more likely than not killed Savio and was responsible for Stacy's disappearance.

The defense motion was filed less than a week after the prosecution filed an appeal to the Illinois State Supreme Court. That petition seeks to admit several hearsay statements that Glasgow says will help Savio speak from the grave.

The court has not yet ruled on that petition.

In July, an appellate court ruled that Glasgow missed the 30-day appeal deadline when he sought to overturn a trial court's decision barring 8 of 14 hearsay statements.

Peterson remains in jail in lieu of $20 million bond since his May 2009 arrest.

sstclair@tribune.com