Peterson trial begins with jury selection, hearsay decision

Jury selection began Monday in the Drew Peterson murder trial, but before it started, a possible blow was dealt to the prosecution.

Judge Judge Edward Burmila decided that the hearsay statements from Peterson’s wives to friends and relatives are too unreliable to be flat out heard in court, and will only be admitted on a case-by-case basis.

There are eight statements that the appellate court ruled could be used in this trial, but it was always up to the trial judge it determine if those statements were reliable and relevant.

The judge said he will allow hearsay statements only if prosecutors are able to lay a foundation for the statements to be used. The hearsay statemntsa are large part of the prosecution’s case because there is no physical evidence, like DNA or finger prints, linking Peterson to Savio’s murder in 2004.

There are 200 potential jurors in the Peterson case. The judge has decided to hear from each of those jurors, 40 at a time per day. Just before 1 p.m. Monday, the judge had only heard from five so far and none were been seated.

Most of the jurors claimed they have followed the judge's orders not to watch TV or read about the case.   One women did tell the judge its been hard.

Stacy Peterson's sister Cassandra appeared in court this morning teary-eyed and staring at Peterson. 

Peterson cleaned up for court Monday wearing a suit instead of county jail attire and sporting a new haircut. 

Background on the Drew Peterson case
Peterson has been a fixture on television for the past four and a half years.  The public and media, for better or worse, can't seem to get enough.  And he can't seem to get enough of us.  

We first talked with the then Bolingbrook Police Sgt. when his fourth wife Stacy disappeared October 28th, 2007. Peterson said the mother of their two young children ran away with another man.  Family and friends didn't buy it.

They searched for the 23-year-old in fields and lakes around their home, even as far away as Galesburg in the northwestern part of the state.

12 days later, police named Drew Peterson as the one and only suspect in the disappearance of Stacy.  He has never been charged and drew has always proclaimed his innocence.

In light of Peterson being a suspect in Stacy’s disappearance, the Will County state's attorney reopened the death investigation of Drew's third wife Kathleen Savio.  

On March 1, 2004 Kathleen Savio was found dead in her bathtub at the home she and Drew shared when they were married.  They were going through a bitter divorce at the time. Police were called to the home for domestic disputes 18 times in the months leading up to the divorce. 

Savio's death was ruled an accidental drowning.  She was found in an empty bath tub with an inch-long cut on her scalp, her tongue partially clenched, and several small abrasions on her body.

On November 13th, 2007 Kathleen Savio's body was exhumed, her death ruled by two other pathologists as a homicide. Eighteen months later Drew Peterson wass arrested and charged with the murder of his third wife.

At the center of the state's case against Peterson is statements allegedly made by Kathleen Savio and Stacy Peterson to others.  In 2008, Illinois passed a law dubbed "Drew's Law"  that allows hearsay evidence if prosecutors believe the victim was killed to prevent his or her testimony.  Stacy allegedly told her pastor that Drew told her he killed Kathleen.

The case has gone all the way to the Illinois Supreme Court with 8 of the 14 hearsay statements eventually being ruled admissible, prompting the judge to seal the evidence. 

And now after all these years and legal wrangling, the State vs Drew Peterson will now begin.

For the Savio family it means a trial that to them is long overdue. They just want justice for both Kathleen and Stacy. 

Drew Peterson’s defense team says they're ready and that the state doesn't have a case.