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Drew Peterson – Unusual Decision

02/15/2011

In what most consider an unusual move, the 3rd District Appellate Court has granted permission for a pool camera to record a very critical hearing in the Drew Peterson murder case.  Peterson is not expected to be present at the hearing.

A three judge appellate panel will hear oral arguments on Wednesday when prosecutors will argue for the admission of hearsay testimony by Kathleen Savio’s sisters and others who testified that she had told them that Peterson threatened to kill her.

Kathleen Savio was found dead in a dry bathtub in 2004 during a bitter divorce from Peterson. Her death was originally ruled an accident.  After Peterson’s fourth wife Stacy disappeared in the fall of 2007, the State had  Savio’s body exhumed and her death was reclassified a homicide.

In 2008 the Illinois legislature passed Drew’s Law. The law allows that hearsay evidence may be admitted at trial when there is proof that a witness was murdered to keep that person from testifying.

Defense attorneys will argue the law is not valid and none of the hearsay testimony should be allowed during Peterson’s trial. If the defense prevails, legal observers believe the prosecution case will collapse.  However, in June, the Illinois Supreme Court rejected an appeal in a case where hearsay evidence was used to convict a Naperville man of killing four family members in 2005

A ruling is not expected on Wednesday and the average length of time for a decision is three months.  Peterson remains in the Will County jail where he has been housed since his May 2009 arrest.

What is interesting to me about this case is the similarity with the Mark Jensen murder case.

Julie Jensen was found dead of ethylene glycol poisoning on Dec. 3, 1998, in Kenosha County, Wisconsin.

Julie’s husband, Mark, initially told police that he thought she’d had an allergic reaction to some medication she was taking. But when detectives began piecing together the evidence, they believed it added up to murder.

Julie Jensen had written a note to a neighbor with instructions to give it to the police if anything happened to her.  In the note, Julie detailed her fears that her husband was reading computer pages about poisoning, behaving strangely, and that he might be trying to kill her.

After lengthy appeals, the State ruled the letter was permitted as evidence and Julie was allowed to ‘testify from the grave’.

Jensen was found guilty of first-degree homicide in 2008.  The Wisconsin Court of Appeals rejected his appeal arguments and upheld his conviction on Dec. 29, 2010.

Arguments in the Peterson case will begin at 1:15 p.m.

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  1. 02/15/2011 at 3:25 pm

    Wow! I’ve never heard of cameras allowed in an IL court. Hope that opens the door for cameras in the future not just in this case but across the state. Thanks for the heads up Donchais!

  2. donchais
    02/15/2011 at 5:08 pm

    Yup, I’ve read this may be a new trend in Illinois.

    The hearing should prove crucial to this case and as I indicated, reminds me so much of what happened in Wisconsin!

    We could be witness to the justice system making huge steps!

  3. ritanita
    02/15/2011 at 11:12 pm

    Another interesting thing is we will see the Appellate Court and its workings. It is very different from what we usually see. It is just the attorneys talking to the judges.

    I can’t wait to watch it. I’m hoping CNN/InSession covers it.

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