Jury selected for Drew Peterson murder trial - FOX 32 News Chicago

Jury selected for Drew Peterson murder trial

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CHICAGO (FOX 32 News) -

A full jury was selected Tuesday for the murder trial of former suburban Chicago police officer Drew Peterson, who was charged with killing his third wife after his fourth wife disappeared in 2007.

It took two days to pick the 12 jurors and four alternates. The jury will get the next few days off and begin hearing testimony after opening statements next week. Seven men and five women are on the jury. Nine jurors are white, two are African-Americans and one is Hispanic.

Those chosen to decide Peterson's fate include a part-time poet, a U.S. letter carrier, a woman who said she likes to read the National Inquirer but doesn't believe everything in it, and a man who owns a Harley Davidson and spends hours on the Internet looking for motorcycle parts.

One juror is a Chicago White Sox fan; another is a Chicago Cubs fan. Other jurors include a plant manager, a Polish-born woman who emigrated to the United States with her family when she was 7 and a research technician whose favorite TV show is "Criminal Minds."

For a closer look at the jurors selected in the Drew Peterson murder trial, click here

Those struck from the jury Tuesday included a woman whose father -- like Peterson -- was divorced three times and a physician who divorced his wife, then remarried her.  
In one-by-one questioning, defense attorneys asked prospective jurors if they watched a 2011 cable TV movie about Peterson that starred Rob Lowe. They also asked potential jurors whether they have been through acrimonious divorces.

The prosecution made no comment to the media on their way into the Will County courthouse in Joliet.

As far as Peterson himself, he's taking a very active role in choosing who will decide his fate.

Defense Attorney Joel Brodsky said Peterson, 58, is paying rapt attention in court, is taking copious notes and giving his defense team input, which has been very helpful in picking jurors. Brodsky said Peterson, a nearly 30-year veteran officer in the same county where he is being tried, knew people in the area better than anyone on his defense team.

"We have the ultimate jury consultant," Brodsky said. "We'll use that knowledge in selecting a jury."

Brodsky said choosing jurors is very difficult, because they only have a few minutes to ask questions. After that short time, they are expected to be able to make a decision.

There's been a wardrobe malfunction, of sorts, during jury selection at the Drew Peterson murder trial.

Attorneys and the chief prosecutor say the start of proceedings were delayed for several minutes Tuesday so Peterson could change out of some ill-fitting pants.

Brodsky later joked with reporters that the jail apparently didn't have an adequate tape measure. Prosecutor James Glasgow also confirmed the reason for the delay.

As proceedings finally began, Peterson looked relaxed in a blue blazer and dress pants.

To avoid prejudicing him in jurors' eyes, the court has permitted him to ditch his jail garb. He also doesn't have to wear the handcuffs and leg chains he had on during pretrial hearings.

The former Bolingbrook cop is on trial for the murder of his third wife Kathleen Savio. She was found dead during their divorce in 2004.

Savio's body was found in a dry bathtub in her home, her hair soaked in blood, just before her divorce settlement with Peterson was to be finalized. He allegedly feared the settlement with Savio would wipe him out financially.

Peterson is also a suspect in the disappearance of his fourth wife, Stacy. She went missing in 2007. Stacy's disappearance prompted investigators to look into Savio's death, which had been ruled accidental.

Savio's body was exhumed and determined a homicide. He was charged with her murder in 2009. The defense contends that's nothing more than an empty theory.

"We have to prove A:  that it was a homicide beyond a reasonable doubt, and B: that Drew Peterson was in that house and committed that homicide, when there is not one shred of evidence, nothing,"  Brodsky said.

Both sides seemed pleased by the makeup of the jury.

"We're very happy with the outcome and looking forward to starting trial next Tuesday," Will County State's Attorney James Glasgow said.

The day actually got off to a late start because Peterson found himself in a tight spot, requiring a wardrobe change.

"He couldn't fit into his pants, so maybe too many Cheetos in jail maybe," defense attorney Joe Lopez said.

While his attorney joked outside court, Peterson was all business in court, helping in jury selection.  He told FOX Chicago News during break that he was not nervous.  

His attorneys say their goal is to win over all 12 jurors, not just one or two.

 "We're not looking for a hung jury, we're looking for not guilty, he didn't do it, what do we want a hung jury for?" defense attorney Steve Greenberg said.

Among those who did not make the cut were a police detective, a woman who said her children once played in the same school band as one of Peterson's sons, and a chemical engineer who said she had heard people in her office saying Peterson was guilty.

Some potential jurors admitted that they had watched that Lifetime movie, which they were instructed not to watch. They were immediately dismissed. There were also people who thought outright that Peterson killed his third wife.

More than 200 prospective jurors were summoned to hear the long-delayed Peterson case in 2009 and were instructed at the time to meticulously avoid all media coverage about it.

Most of the 40 potential jurors questioned Monday said they had heard at least snippets of news about Peterson over the three years, but the majority insisted that whatever they heard wouldn't preclude them from giving him a fair trial.

Asked if she was able to avoid seeing intense media coverage of the case, one woman later struck from the pool said, "It's right there in front of you -- it's hard not to (see it)."

Three people who said they watched the entire TV movie -- in apparent violation of court instructions -- also were dismissed. One was a professional plumber who said he went out of his way to watch the movie.

"He looked guilty," the man said, referring to the conclusion he drew from the movie. In his questionnaire, he also wrote that he spoke to his girlfriend about the movie later.

"We discussed how he done it," he wrote, referring to how they thought Peterson had committed the killings.

Defense attorneys also asked them whether they have been through acrimonious divorces, ruling out those who had.

Peterson appeared clean-shaven in court Monday, sans his trademark moustache. He greeted his potential jurors by saying "Good morning, ladies and gentlemen, I'm Mr. Peterson."

His team is hoping to get a full jury from the current pool, and not have to start fresh again later. They said they're hoping that jurors can stay neutral in the case.

After a jury is chosen, attorneys will have until next Tuesday to prepare their opening statements. Prosecutors are expected to call their first witnesses later that same day.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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