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 Friday, April 18, the 108th day of 2014. There are 257 days left in the year.
1864 -- 150 years ago: A new steamer, Keithsburg, now is at our levee taking on board the balance of her fixtures preparatory to assuming her position on the daily Rock Island and Keokuk line.
1889 -- 125 years ago: C.W. Hawes was appointed deputy county clerk by county clerk Donaldson.
1914 -- 100 years ago: Mrs. O.E. child, of Moline, was named president of the Women's Home Missionary Society of the Methodist Church Rock Island District of the Central Illinois conference.
1939 -- 75 years ago: Augustana College is making plans for a drive for funds to erect a field house and make football field improvements.
1964 -- 50 years ago: A expanded election coverage system featuring a 16-foot chalkboard showing up to the minute running totals, attracted a large and enthusiastic crowd to The Argus newsroom last night.
1989 -- 25 years ago: Balloons frame Rock Island attorney Stewart Winstein who was given a surprise party in the rotunda of the Rock Island County Courthouse on Thursday to honor his 50th year of practicing law.




(More History)