For several hours on Friday, the judge and lawyers in the Drew Peterson murder trial have been hammering out the details of the jury instructions.
Peterson is in the courtroom for this meeting, but the jurors are not. The jury will return Tuesday for the start of closing statements.
The defense has requested several times to change wording or give instructions in addition to what the law already requires. They have been denied almost all requests.
Trying to recover from what many see as a huge mistake by the defense last week, Peterson attorney Joel Brodsky asked Judge Edward Burmila to instruct the jury that divorce attorney Harry Smith’s testimony was incorrect. Smtih had testified that he told Stacy Peterson that holding on to the information she had that Drew killed Kathy Savio would be a felony and considered to be concealment of a homicide. During testimony Brodsky asked Smith that why he gave different testimony at a hearsay hearing, saying he told her trying to extort Drew for money is a felony.
Burmila said that Brodsky had a chance to continue questioning Smith and didn’t. Brodsky said he was “unprepared” and “surprised” by Smith’s answer.
Burmila told the defense that because things don’t “pan out the way you hoped it would” didn’t mean he could change the instruction. Although he did agree that Smith’s statement would lend more credibility to Stacy’s alleged statements.
Burmila denied the request.
The judge also denied the defense's request to have specific instructions telling the jurors they should only pay attention to the charges and crimes in THIS case. Brodsky said there are concerns out there that the jurors could consider Stacy.
Brodsky said his team will renew their motion for what's known as a "directed verdict." That will allow the judge to dismiss the case.
“Instructions are very important. Jury’s follow insturctions, the judge’s instructions. That’s a certainty,” said Brodsky.
He said one of the imporant issues when it comes to instructions is properly defining the meaning of "hearsay" evidence, which is a crucial piece of the prosecution's case against Peterson.