Witness blames ex-Peterson lawyer for conviction


Share
Posted Online: Feb. 20, 2013, 2:06 pm
Comment on this story | Print this story | Email this story

JOLIET, Ill. (AP) A decision by Drew Peterson's then-lead attorney to call one particular witness at the former police officer's murder trial may have led to Peterson's conviction, a retired judge testified Wednesday at a hearing to decide if Peterson should get a new trial in the death of his third wife.

The former judge, who is not otherwise connected to the case, took the stand as Peterson's current legal team sought to persuade a Will County judge to give Peterson a new trial. Peterson's current attorneys contend his former attorney, Joel Brodsky, badly botched his 2012 trial.

Peterson is also a suspect in the 2007 disappearance of this fourth wife, 23-year-old Stacy Peterson, but has never been charged in that case.

Wednesday's hearing focused on a decision that backfired on the defense at trial: to call divorce lawyer Harry Smith as a witness. Smith told jurors that before Stacy Peterson vanished, she had asked him if she could she squeeze more money out of her husband in divorce proceedings if she threatened to tell police that he murdered Savio three years earlier.

With Smith's testimony, Daniel Locallo testified Wednesday, jurors for the first time heard someone say Peterson admitted to killing Savio.

'Up until that point, there had not been any direct evidence in respect to Mr. Peterson causing the demise of Ms. Savio,' the retired judge testified.

If Judge Edward Burmila rejects the motion for a new trial, he has said he would proceed quickly to sentencing the 59-year-old Peterson for his September conviction for killing his third wife, Kathleen Savio. He faces a maximum 60-year prison term.

In calling Smith, Brodsky hoped Smith's testimony that Stacy Peterson allegedly sought to extort her husband would dent the credibility of statements she made to others that Drew Peterson threatened to kill her. Instead, Smith kept stressing how Stacy Peterson seemed to sincerely believe her husband had killed Savio and that her husband even told her directly that he killed Savio.

The state's lead prosecutor in the case, James Glasgow, referred to Smith's testimony at the time as 'a gift from God.' And after the trial, some jurors said Smith's testimony persuaded them to convict Peterson.

Peterson's current attorneys say the decision was all Brodsky's, though he said the entire defense team, including several lawyers still representing Peterson, agreed.

Locallo said he went through court records and determined it was Brodsky who made the decision, calling him 'the captain of the (defense) ship' at trial.

'He is the one delivering, in Mr. Glasgow's words, 'a gift from God,'' Locallo said.

Under cross-examination, though, Locallo conceded that none of Brodsky's fellow trial attorneys expressed their objections to the judge himself about opposing the decision to call Smith.














 



Local events heading








  Today is Thursday, April 24, the 114th day of 2014. There are 251 days left in the year.

1864 -- 150 years ago: We learn that it is a contemplation to start a paper mill in Rock Island during the summer by a gentleman from the East.
1889 -- 125 years ago: The gates of Oklahoma were swung open at noon today, and a throng of more than 30,000 settlers started over its soil.
1914 -- 100 years ago: The Iowa Coliseum Co. was incorporated with $40,000 capital and planned a building on 4th Street between Warren and Green streets in Davenport.
1939 -- 75 years ago: Plans are being discussed for resurfacing the streets in the entire downtown district of Rock Island.
1964 -- 50 years ago: Some 45 jobs will be created at J.I. Case Co.'s Rock Island plant in a expansion of operations announced yesterday afternoon at the firm's headquarters in Racine, Wis.
1989 -- 25 years ago: Gardeners and farmers cheered, but not all Quad-Citians found joy Saturday as more than an inch of rain fell on the area. Motorists faced dangerous, rain-slick roads as the water activated grease and grime that had built up during dry weather.








(More History)