Drew Peterson Hearsay Decision in Appellate Court's Hands
The appellate court heard arguments about whether to allow hearsay evidence at Drew Peterson's murder trial but will wait weeks, if not months, before making a decision.
Drew Peterson's attorneys fought for a month last year to knock out most of the 13 hearsay statements prosecutors wanted to use at his murder trial. Today, one of his lawyers went at it for another hour in hopes of keeping them out.
Attorney Steven Greenberg, who was not even part of Peterson's legal team during last year's landmark hearsay hearing in Will County court, was tasked with attacking a prosecution appeal of how many secondhand statements can be introduced at Peterson's trial.
Greenberg pointed out that State's Attorney James Glasgow crafted a specific statute, apparently to use against Peterson, and is now asking the Third District Appellate Court in Ottawa to ignore it in favor of the common law, which requires prosecutors to overcome fewer hurdles when introducing hearsay evidence.
"The whole thing is ironic and hypocritical," Greenberg said after the hearing. "I wish I could pick which laws we go under."
Greenberg also noted that Glasgow blew the deadline to file his appeal. The appellate court gave prosecutors additional time, but Joseph "Shark" Lopez, another of Peterson's attorneys, said that meant "they only let us come here to argue about it" and could still use the lapsed deadline as a reason to kill the appeal.
Peterson has been jailed since May 2009 on charges he murdered his third wife, Kathleen Savio. The state police also suspect Peterson may have killed his fourth wife, Stacy Peterson, who vanished in October 2007 and remains missing.
Prosecutors want to use as evidence incriminating statements supposedly made by both wives. The women would have been able to testify themselves, according to Glasgow, if Peterson had not killed one of them and caused the other to disappear.
Judge Stephen White determined that Peterson likely killed both women when he allowed 3 of the 13 statements to be used. Prosecutors are now battling to get the rest back in play.
Glasgow and Assistant State's Attorney Colleen Griffin argued the merits of the appeal.
"Ironically, I'm in a unique position here," Glasgow said when he began his statements. "I'm the one who wrote the statute" he now wants the appellate court to disregard.
Griffin made the initial prosecution argument and was questioned repeatedly by Judge William Holdridge about whether the appeal was filed fast enough.
"So you see no problem with the timeliness of this appeal?" he asked at one point. Griffin did not.
The proceedings were televised live, a first in Illinois legal history.
Following the hearing, Greenberg said the most glaring flaw in the prosecution's appeal is that the statements supposedly made by Savio cannot be used at her own murder trial.
"The biggest (issue) is a person can't be a witness in his own murder case unless it's a dying declaration," he said.
"It's a slippery slope where you're going to have a lot of people say, 'Joe told me this so it must be true,'" he said. "It's a very dangerous precedent."
Savio's sister Susan Doman attended the hearing and viewed it favorably.
"I think James Glasgow did a wonderful job," Doman said. "I can't ask for anything more."
Stacy Peterson's sister, Cassandra Cales, and brother, Yelton Cales, also attended. Cassandra Cales said prosecutors don't even need the hearsay statements to put Peterson away.
"The hearsay's not going to prove the murder. The evidence is," Cassandra Cales said. "There's a substantial amount of evidence. Justice will prevail. I know it.
"It's been a long emotional roller coaster ride," Cassandra Cales said of the more than three years since her sister disappeared. "We'll get there some day."
And it has been a long 21 months in the county jail for Drew Peterson as well, with the prosecution appeal doing nothing to speed things along.
"It's unfair that he hasn't be released," Lopez said. "His right to a speedy trial has been trampled upon."
Lopez said Peterson has been persecuted "because he's Drew Peterson and everybody hates him."
"He's being held because no one will listen to him," Lopez said. "And he's being held because the state knows that if he is released, he will go on every major network and tell how he has been treated."