Peterson Acquittal Denied by Illinois Judge – Update, September 6, 2012
Judge Edward Burmila, of Will County, Illinois, rejected the defense’s request to acquit former police sergeant Drew Peterson of first-degree murder charges before the criminal defense lawyers put on a defense. This came less than an hour after the prosecution rested its case.
Peterson is charged with killing his third wife, Kathleen Savio, in 2004. He was only charged with Savio’s death after his fourth wife, Stacy Peterson, disappeared in 2007. Peterson has pleaded not guilty.
At one point during the motion for acquittal Steve Greenberg, Peterson’s criminal attorney, urged Judge Burmila to set Peterson free. Greenberg even reminded the judge of words he uttered last week in court: “You don’t even have any evidence linking him to the scene.”
Apparently the judge thought differently. “The jury could find that the defendant is guilty of this offense,” he said, denying the motion.
And ultimately, this may be prophetic: The jury so far has suffered 4 weeks of testimony and now will ultimately decide Peterson’s fate. If found guilty of murder, Peterson could face a maximum imprisonment of 60 years.
Update: During closing arguments, Prosecutor Chris Koch has asked jurors to use “common sense”: Convict the former Illinois police sergeant of killing his third wife, Kathleen Savio. As Koch stated, a common sense examination of the evidence shows Peterson killed her in 2004 and also shows that she didn’t die by accidentally falling in her bathtub.
Update: Jurors have withdrawn Wednesday, September 5, to begin deliberations on whether or not Drew Peterson killed his third wife. He is charged with 2 counts of first-degree murder. He has pleaded not guilty.
The jury’s job is not easy: There is no physical evidence, and the prosecution has been allowed to rely heavily, therefor, on hearsay evidence to put forth its case (and a first in Illinois legal history).
Peterson’s lead defense attorney said: “He’s emotionally and mentally prepared for whatever happens.” And another defense lawyer added, that the hearsay evidence was as credible as watercooler gossip . . . and just that. Just talk.
In a note the 12 deliberating jurors have asked presiding Judge Edward Burmila for a definition . . . of the word “unanimous.”
Judge Burmila, after conferring with attorneys, sent back a note to the jury: Unanimous means “the agreement of all on the matter at hand.”
It might seem confusing at first glance, but the amount of so-called hearsay (and other circumstantial) evidence brought forth at the trial may have stirred up such a request from a possibly perplexed jury. Because the original crime scene investigation had been botched – with no physical evidence collected – Illinois created legislation seemingly custom fit to the Peterson case, allowing for the admission of hearsay evidence (normally barred from any American court).