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Drew Peterson convicted of murder

Drew Peterson convicted of murder

I’ll admit I haven’t been following this case very closely.

But it seems newsworthy that he was convicted in a circumstantial case (h/t creeper):

Retired Bolingbrook police officer Drew Peterson was found guilty Thursday of murdering his third wife, Kathleen Savio, the verdict eliciting a gasp from a packed Will County courthouse and ending a case that for years has received salacious tabloid news coverage.

Peterson showed no emotion as the verdict was read. He was shackled, said “Good job” to his attorneys and was led off. Sentencing has been set for Nov. 26. Savio’s family and supporters hugged and cried along with witnesses who testified for the state….

The verdict came after five weeks of testimony at the courthouse in Joliet, where prosecutors tried to show circumstantial and hearsay evidence proved Peterson was guilty of killing Kathleen Savio. The defense team attempted to poke holes in the prosecution case and said Savio’s death wasn’t a murder at all, but a slip-and-fall accident.

Peterson’s attorneys pointed to the lack of physical evidence, the inability by prosecutors to place Peterson at the scene, and conflicting opinions from forensic pathologists about how Savio, 40, died.

Savio was found drowned on March 1, 2004, in her dry Bolingbrook bathtub, and her death was ruled an accident. But three years later, when Peterson’s 23-year-old fourth wife, Stacy Peterson, disappeared, Savio’s body was exhumed and her death was ruled a homicide.

Since I haven’t followed the case, I can’t opine on the verdict. 

I can say, however, that it always worries me when a case lacks hard evidence, and the jury implicitly is asked to convict because the defendant is a bad person.


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From what I’ve observed over the years there was a lot of smoke but no fire.

I think that “circumstantial” events continue to be repeated several times, there may well be justifiable suspicion especially considering the fact that an experience police officer would be an expert in covering up his trail.

Certainly, the investigation should continue…

I thought the same thing when I heard it… worrisome for the over all health of our legal system.

I can say, however, that it always worries me when a case lacks hard evidence, and the jury implicitly is asked to convict because the defendant is a bad person.

Worse yet is the recent trend to convict based upon the horrific nature of the crime. Every one is so shocked by the nature of the crime that the compulsion to convict becomes overwhelming.

    creeper in reply to MSO. | September 6, 2012 at 8:38 pm

    Worse yet is the recent trend to convict based upon the horrific nature of the crime.

    I don’t see the “trend” you’re referring to, MSO. It was certainly nowhere in evidence at the Casey Anthony trial nor at the OJ circus.

    Some jurors probably do react more emotionally than others. That’s why we have twelve of them.

I was told (by lawyers) that the quaint belief that “what’s right is right” is not how it works now. If we bury you in (even forged) paperwork, and obstruct and collude, sandbag and obfuscate … you must hire us to undo what our cabal has done, at $1000 a page, if we ever really try to do what ethics and morals would require. “Have you talked to the right people, gone through the right channels?”

So my greater concern is that those in the system, can work the system, with complete compliance from others in the “cabal”. Peterson SEEMED to fit that to a “T” (I have no real knowledge). Just think of how routine fixing traffic tickets is (doesn’t everyone know this?) … yet that crime is accepted … Peterson (it would seem) just upped it a few notches. Someone on this blog mentioned once … imagine the worst you can in Chicago .. and triple it.

I can’t speak about the specifics of his case (just speaking in generalities) … but in my case (hypothetically) … pillars of local society were fully complicit, seemingly accepting a separate form of lawyer/politician/millionaire hierarchy, that is separate from any actual rule of law, that I had thought existed at least on this small town level. And I’m a local … with at least some friends.

This loss of confidence in our system comes after observing another big lawyer/politician “nice guy” I knew elsewhere … go to prison. And I hear even from prison, he runs another expensive scam, coordinating fake college degrees. His son will follow him to prison … his dad a former big mayor. It is endemic.

The insistence on a perfect case, costing millions, while the most corrupt operate freely on multiple levels (eg. anyone in prison for the housing market debacle? NO!) is ruining us. We got Blago in Illinois, finally … and thankfully there is no other crime in Chicago government? I really think Blago was chump change .. tossed to the lions … or maybe I should say to the kittens. Governors are expendable … who really runs the show?

But this is all hypothetical … I sure hope I’m completely wrong …

I have a question that involves this (and other) cases. In a criminal trial the defendant must be found guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. When a jury is given that instruction, I know they are told to weigh all the evidence. In this case, it is well known that this man has had a few wives mysteriously disappear or die unexpectedly. Being a reasonable person, I find it highly unreasonable that a man who has been married four times lost two wives and had another die mysteriously. That circumstance is so outside of normal probability that I think it reasonable that he did something to make them disappear. If this thought process is used by a juror is it a legal way of reaching a verdict (in addition to the given testimony – ie as long as the evidence supports such a conclusion)?

    Anon Y. Mous in reply to lightning. | September 6, 2012 at 10:05 pm

    I think you are miscounting wives. At least according to his Wikipedia page, the first two wives are accounted for (he divorced them). So, he had one wife who died mysteriously (the murder conviction), and one who disappeared.

      JackRussellTerrierist in reply to Anon Y. Mous. | September 7, 2012 at 5:53 am

      The first two wives didn’t need killing because there weren’t enough accumulated assets that early in life to make killing them worth his while.

      It was all about the money.

While hearsay evidence was a substantial part of this case it was not the whole thing. From the FOX News story:

There was some damning testimony not based on hearsay.

A former co-worker of Peterson’s, Jeff Pachter, testified that Peterson offered him $25,000 to hire a hit man to kill Savio, though he never followed through. After Savio was found dead, Peterson told him, “That favor I asked you — I don’t need it anymore.”

Peterson’s band of colorful, wisecracking defense attorneys — who joked outside court that Stacy Peterson could show up any day to take the stand — committed their own share of errors. As they sought to blunt the credibility of hearsay, for instance, they ended up prompting their own witness to repeatedly emphasize that Stacy Peterson was convinced her husband killed Savio.

Prosecutors have been barred from telling jurors Stacy Peterson is presumed dead or that her husband is the lone suspect in her disappearance during testimony — and they can’t allude to it during closings.

So we have one wife murdered, another one missing (even though the jury couldn’t hear about that) and a man with motive, opportunity, no alibi and a history of violence.

My head shares your concerns on hearsay evidence. My heart says, “Thank dog that sonofabitch got his.”

    Ragspierre in reply to creeper. | September 6, 2012 at 8:47 pm

    Juries don’t always work.

    Generally, they DO.

    The system isn’t perfect. I just is the best system we know anything about.

    Jeff Pachter’s testimony of Peterson’s out of court statement is also hearsay per most state rules. (Though there is an exception for its admission as evidence as a party-admission. Under federal rules of evidence, such an admission is not hearsay and is exempted.)
    (Sorry — just couldn’t help myself.)

    Peterson pretty much hanged himself with his demeanor both inside court and outside of court. It’s almost as if he’s been daring authorities to try him and convict him.

    JackRussellTerrierist in reply to creeper. | September 7, 2012 at 5:29 am

    There is no doubt and would have been no doubt in my mind as to Peterson’s guilt, and it has nothing to do with him being such an insufferable asshole. It has to do with his behaviors and statements and the way the body was found. Is it all circumstantial? No. Even though there really was no CSI-type evidence, Peterson solicited her murder…..and she was indeed murdered. A crime was committed. It wasn’t an accident.

    People expect there to always be DNA or fingerprints or blood evidence or hair and fiber evidence, etc. because of TV shows and talking heads. How did crimes ever get solved before such technology became available? There is something called common sense. Just because there are some dumb people in the world walking upright does not mean there aren’t many others with critical thinking skills.

    Think Occam’s Razor.

    Peterson did it, and he did his last wife, too. Motives were HUGE, and motive is powerful evidence.

have dealt with a zealous cop (on dept I was interviewing for) and da I have issues with no hard evidence too.
but I don’t know enough about the case to opine.

    JackRussellTerrierist in reply to dmacleo. | September 7, 2012 at 5:45 am

    There’s plenty of evidence, just as there was in the Laci Peterson case.

    If you put a plate of a dozen chocolate chip cookies out on your kitchen counter, and your 7 yr.old son loves said cookies and wolfs them down greedily whenever possible, and there’s nobody in the house but you and he, including no pets, the doors are locked and the windows shut, and 1 hour later 4 cookies are missing from the plate, and you know you didn’t eat any of them, do you really have to have video evidence to deduce who ate the 4 missing cookies? 🙂

Professor, my thanks for posting this so quickly.

“How quickly?” you ask?

I e-mailed my suggestion at 6:35 PM. Eleven minutes later the post was up and I had a reply. Now that’s above and beyond.

Charles Curran | September 6, 2012 at 8:52 pm

The fact that she drown in a bathtub that had no water in it, may have had something to do with it.

NC Mountain Girl | September 6, 2012 at 9:07 pm

It bothers a fellow cop testified to the coroner’s jury that Drew was a good guy who’d never hurt his third wife. That testimony played prominently in the initial finding that her death was accidental. I’ve seen too much contempt of the law citizens by cops playing the class warfare game to worry that Peterson got convicted because he was a bad person.

9thDistrictNeighbor | September 6, 2012 at 9:34 pm

Stacy Peterson was allegedly made unavailable for testimony by Drew. She was allegedly last seen leaving the Peterson house in a 55-gallon drum; alternately, she was allegedly last seen leaving the Peterson house in a blue cable-company container. She was definitely last seen October 28, 2007. Al Capone was convicted of tax evasion. Fine with me.

He’ll die in prison.

The last People mag type story I payed any particular attention to was the chunky chick with the nice rack that lay rotting for weeks while the family haggled over the loot. THAT was amusing!

This should wipe that arrogant smirk off his face.

Left Coast Red | September 8, 2012 at 5:51 am

Notwithstanding the Professor’s preference for football (or lack thereof), American football IS exceptional. It’s mention therefore should not be ruled out of bounds.