Jury: Defense Witness Sealed Drew Peterson's Fate
A witness called by his own attorneys ended up swaying the jury into deciding Drew Peterson was guilty of murder, jurors said the day after the trial.
The entire jury in the Drew Peterson murder trial figured from the beginning of their deliberations that the disgraced ex-cop's third wife, Kathleen Savio, had been slain and was not the victim of an accident.
But at the start only seven thought Peterson was guilty of killing her.
It took the testimony of Savio's divorce lawyer—a witness called by Peterson's own attorneys—to tip the scales and send Peterson down on the murder rap, jurors said the day after they rendered their verdict.
"The lawyer's testimony was the one that got us the most," said jury foreman Eduardo Saldana, a 22-year-old Bolingbrook resident and college student.
Smith not only represented Savio in her divorce from Peterson, but said he spoke to Stacy just days before she mysteriously disappeared in October 2007.
Brodsky said he called Smith to testify in hopes of sullying Stacy's reputation by painting her as a gold-digging blackmailer. Instead, Smith repeatedly drove home the point that Stacy told him Peterson killed Savio.
A source close to Peterson's team of six attorneys said three of them—Joseph "Shark" Lopez, Lisa Lopez and Steve Greenberg—vocally opposed putting Smith on the stand. Brodsky was the only one in favor of the move, the source said.
Lopez declined to comment when asked for his thoughts on calling Smith to testify. Brodsky failed to respond to questions about the Smith decision or whether he feels responsible for losing the case.
Saldana and fellow jurors Jeremy Massey, Teresa Mathews and Patricia Timke agreed to meet with reporters Friday. Timke was an alternate juror. She did not get to weigh in on the Peterson verdict, but said she would have voted guilty.
After the first vote of seven for guilty, four for not guilty and one undecided, the jury shifted to 11 to one on its second poll. The 11 to one vote came at the end of their first day of deliberation.
Mathews said she was one of the seven to vote guilty in the first poll. She said she and other jurors knew that Stacy vanished nearly five years ago and remains missing today, but that didn't factor into their verdict.
"We did not use that when we deliberated," she said.
Mathews also said she and other jurors did not buy the theory put forth by Peterson's attorneys—and the Illinois State Police following Savio's death in March 2004—that she slipped in her tub, hit her head and drowned.
"There were too many bruises and too man parts of the body" were injured, she said.
"There's no way she could have fell," added Massey.
Mathews was also the one who came up with the idea of having jurors dress in matching outfits, including one day when they all wore shirts bearing the logos of various athletic teams. And apparently Judge Edward Burmila was in on this from early on as well.
"There was no message," Mathews said. "Just one day I said, 'Do you want to wear blue tomorrow?' The judge allowed us to wear the sports apparel."
"We were bored," noted Saldana.
Mathews and Saldana were both critical of the state police investigation that initially determined Savio perished in a freak bathtub accident. Massey said he found the position of Savio's body when it was discovered in the bathtub to be suspicious, and Saldana pointed out other factors that seemed inconsistent with an accidental drowning.
Saldana said the jury as a whole was impressed with Peterson's attorneys.
"We all thought they were good lawyers," he said. "They had their tactics."
But Mathews said she was turned off by Lopez showing a picture of a purple, grinning Cheshire cat whenever he mentioned Smith during his closing argument.
"That was very demeaning to us jurors," she said.
Massey agreed, saying, "He could have left the cat out."