Judge Bars 'Murder Weapon' Bathtub From Drew Peterson Case Courtroom
The judge in the Drew Peterson murder case won't let prosecutors haul a bathtub into court.
Calling the bathtub in which Drew Peterson's third wife was found drowned a "murder weapon," a prosecutor argued Tuesday to have the tub hauled into court so the jury could get a look at it.
Assistant State's Attorney John Conner failed to convince Will County Judge Edward Burmila that bringing the bathtub before a jury was a good idea. Burmila felt a free-standing tub without the context of a bathroom around it might somehow confuse jurors.
Defense attorney Joseph "Shark" Lopez said there was no legitimate reason to bring the bathtub into court and that prosecutors only wanted to for "dramatic effect."
Burmila refused to allow the bathtub to be brought into his courtroom but did entertain the idea of reinstalling it in the bathroom it was taken out of in 2007 so jurors could get a look at it in its natural setting. Burmila would only do this if circumstances dictate and with the permission of the homeowner, he said.
The bathtub was removed from the Bolingbrook home of Peterson's third wife, Kathleen Savio, and placed in storage in late 2007. Conner wants juror to see and feel the tub to refute expected testimony from defense expert witnesses.
The defense experts are expected to say Savio lacerated her scalp when she slipped and struck her head against the tub, then passed out and drowned.
That was just what state police investigators believed when they investigated Savio's death in March 2004, and the state police investigators clung to that notion until October 2007, when Peterson's next wife, Stacy Peterson, mysteriously vanished.
The state police then abruptly changed course and declared that Savio was the victim of a homicide. A year and a half later they arrested Drew Peterson and charged him with her murder.
The state police also believe Drew Peterson may have had a hand in Stacy Peterson's disappearance but have yet to charge him with harming her.
The bathtub issue was but one of many raised during the Tuesday court hearing.
Defense attorney Lisa Lopez opened the session by trying to stop county jail staff from "intercepting" and copying Drew Peterson's letters. Burmila ruled that the jail staff was within their rights to copy Peterson's mail. Burmila is also permitting some—but not all—testimony from a Bolingbrook woman who had an affair with Peterson while he was married to Savio.
Former Peterson mistress Sue McCauley has said Drew Peterson told her Savio was "crazy" and that complications from drinking wine while taking medication contributed to her death.
Prosecutors are also pushing to get even more hearsay statements admitted as evidence against Peterson.
These matters were set over for a July 18 hearing.