Drew Peterson defense team makes third mistrial request - FOX 32 News Chicago

Peterson defense team makes third mistrial request, judge to rule Wed. morning

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CHICAGO (FOX 32 News) -

The judge in Drew Peterson's murder case says he will announce his decision on a mistrial motion Wednesday morning.

State prosecutor Kathy Patton addressed the court, after her blunder caused the defense to motion for a third mistrial - with prejudice - in the Peterson case.

She apologized to the court for her mistake, and said that it was hers alone. She said her team should not take the blame for her mistake. Patton then asked that any sanctions that may be imposed be made against her personally, not made against the entire prosecution team.

Patton asked a witness about an order of protection, in direct violation of an order given by Judge Burmila in a hearsay hearing held shortly before lunch.

The miscue came during the testimony of Teresa Kernc, a former Bolingbrook police officer who took a report from Kathleen Savio after Peterson broke into her house in 2002.

Kernc testified that Savio told her Peterson pinned her down and during the three and a half hour ordeal she said to him, "Go, or do what you came to do, kill me."

Peterson responded "Where do you want it?"

Kernc said Savio answered "in the head" after which Peterson allegedly put a knife to her throat, Savio, said she turned her head and Peterson said I can't hurt you, and then left.

"There was one thing I told you not to go into and that's exactly what you did," Judge Burmila said.

The judge called the prosecution's mistakes "shenanigans," and said people could logically infer that the mistake was intentional.

The defense motioned for a mistrial with prejudice. If the judge grants the motion, Peterson could be free and clear: he could walk, and never be charged for this crime again.

But Prosecutors argued that the mistake can be corrected by striking question about the protective order, telling jury to disregard and then moving on.

"What we want is a fair trial and Judge Burmila is going out of his way to give us a fair trial and we just want the state to stop getting in the way of a fair trial," Peterson's attorney, Steve Greenberg commented.

At around 3:30 p.m., Judge Burmila dismissed the jury and announced that he will issue a ruling on Wednesday at 9 a.m.

The judge noted this was the third time prosecutors brought up banned evidence.

"While the world is watching, you can't violate order after order after order and nothing happens. This is crazy to me," commented trial attorney Sam Adam Jr. who was in court. He believes Judge Edward Burmila will issue sanctions but allow the trial to continue.

Defense attorney Joel Brodsky called the prosecution's mistakes "an avalanche of prejudicial errors." But the prosecution said a mistrial with prejudice would be too harsh a ruling.

"I can't believe I did it," Patton said, after apologizing to the judge. She was seen sitting by herself with her head in her hands in the courtroom next door.

The defense, which originally only wanted a mistrial with prejudice, claiming it would not be fair to Peterson to simply declare a mistrial and start over, later backed off that request. Prosecutors are just hoping for the best.

James Glasgow, Will County State's attorney says, "we stand ready to appear in court tomorrow morning and receive the judge's decision and proceed with this trial."

 

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TOXICOLOGIST: THERE WERE NO DRUGS IN SAVIO'S SYSTEM

Prosecutors in the Peterson trial presented forensic evidence Tuesday, to prove that Savio did not die from an accidental drowning.

The only witness to testify Tuesday morning was Dr. Christopher Long, the toxicologist who tested 40-year-old Savio's body when she was originally found dead, and when her body was exhumed in 2007.

Peterson's third wife was found dead in her dry bathtub in 2004. The original autopsy concluded that her death had been accidental. When Peterson's fourth wife Stacy vanished three years later, Savio's body was exhumed, her death investigation re-opened, and her death determined a homicide.

The former Bolingbrook police officer, 58, was charged with first-degree murder in 2009. He is a suspect in 23-year-old Stacy's disappearance, but has not been charged in the case.

She has yet to be found. Peterson's defense team has said in the past that they believe Stacy Peterson ran off with another man. Any mention of Peterson's fourth wife has been barred from the trial on Savio's murder.

Dr. Long testified Tuesday that the tests run on tissue samples from Savio's body from both years tested negative for all drugs. This finding counters what the defense hoped to prove, that her death was an accident.

Peterson's defense team has played with the fact that Savio was taking anti-depressants, and those drugs may have caused her to lose her balance, fall in the bath and drown in the tub.

Defense attorney Darryl Goldberg noted that the 2007 test showed aspirin in Savio's system, which was not detected in 2004. But Dr. Long testified that chemical composition showed up in the later test due to her body's decomposition.

Prosecutors contend that the scene was staged by Peterson to look like an accident. But the problem is that there is no physical evidence due to shoddy processing of the Savio crime scene. Their case relies heavily on circumstantial and hearsay testimony.

HEARSAY TESTIMONY BARRED FROM COURT

The State had hoped to have Stacy Peterson's aunt and a friend, who flew in from California, testify that they heard Peterson brag to them that he could make a murder look accidental (based on his experience as a cop).

Candice Aikin also would have testified that on the night Savio died, he told her that if anyone asked, he was at home with her.

Judge Edward Burmila ruled Tuesday – out of juror earshot – to bar that hearsay testimony from court, due to the nature of the testimony. He said is would have created unfair bias in jurors' minds. Both witnesses were removed from Tuesday's list.

Other witnesses have already said Peterson could make a murder look accidental, but cumulative testimony from Aikin and her friend Donna Badalamenti on that point directly after the toxicologist's statements could have solidified the prosecution's argument.

WITNESSES ON DECK

The pathologist who performed the second autopsy on Savio's body in 2007 is expected to take the stand later this week, as the murder trial enters its third week of court proceedings.

Dr. Larry Bloom's testimony is critical to the prosecution's case because his autopsy report determined Savio's death to be a homicide. He concluded that she did not die from a slip and fall, but that she was murdered.

He is also expected to tell the jury how the position Savio's body was found in did not measure up to how a body should have been positioned, had she simply fallen.

Dr. Bloom testified in hearsay hearings two years ago.

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