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

Forensic pathologist: Savio's injuries didn't come from tub

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CHICAGO (FOX 32 News) -

PATHOLOGIST DR. LARRY BLUM TESTIFIES, PROSECUTORS BLUNDER AGAIN

The judge at the Drew Peterson trial has again taken prosecutors to task after a pathologist broached a subject that wasn't supposed to be mentioned in front of jurors.

Dr. Larry Blum took the stand Wednesday to testify about an autopsy he performed on Peterson's third wife, Kathleen Savio, three years after she died.

Blum pointed out a series of bruises to Savio's chest, hip, breast, arm, hand and shins that he said were inflicted less than a hour before she died.

He pointed to scrapes on her buttocks and elbow that he said could not have been caused by the smooth surface of the tub from a slip and fall accident.  She was found face down in her dry bathtub.

At around 3 p.m., jurors were sent out of the room when Blum mentioned, against the judge's request, that he had crawled into the tub as part of his 2007 investigation into what caused Savio's death.

The judge asked prosecutor James Glasgow, "Didn't you tell the doctor to not talk about getting into the tub?" Glasgow responded, "I told him that."

Judge Burmilla said that it doesn't appear that the state paid attention to any orders he had given.

The trial continued after the judge chastised the prosecution and told the jury to ignore the comment about Blum getting into the tub.

Prosecutors asked Blum about blood caked on Savio's face, that had trickled there from a gash on the back of her head.

Blum said, "It would be impossible for that to occur if her face was down in the water at that time." He described graphic autopsy photos that at one point drew a gasp from the gallery.

Pam Bosco, a spokesperson for the Stacy Peterson family, reacted, "My heart sank when he put up that picture...there was over 13 bruises and abrasions to Kathleen's body. In no way did she fall and hit her head and die in the tub. She was brutalized that night, if that wasn't apparent to the jury."

Defense attorneys downplayed the testimony.

"It was an interesting day, but I thinkt he case is going to be made in the cross-examination," commented Peterson's attorney, Joel Brodsky.

Trial ended at 5 p.m. Court will resume Thursday morning.

TESTIMONY CONTINUES

Witness testimony continued in the Drew Peterson murder trial after the defense withdrew their motion for mistrial Wednesday.

Former Bolingbrook police officer Theresa Kernc took the stand for a second time Wednesday, to continue her testimony regarding the report she took on an altercation between Peterson and his third wife, Kathleen Savio.

Kernc testified that Savio scribbled out the word "knife" from her written statement. Savio did not want her former husband to lose his job, and told Kernc that she did not want him arrested.

Kernc said Savio told her that Peterson wanted her to take the blame for their failed marriage.

DEFENSE WITHDRAWS MISTRIAL REQUEST

Defense attorney Joe Lopez read a statement regarding the team's withdrawal of their third mistrial request in court Wednesday.

Lopez told the court that Peterson wants this jury to decide his case, and the former Bolingbrook police officer doesn't want to hide behind a legal technicality. His client does not want to start over.

"We are not giving the state a practice run," Lopez said. "This is a real race and Mr. Peterson wants the world to know that he's not afraid. He wants to keep this jury in its place."

Judge Burmila asked the defendant if he discussed this decision with his team, and if he agreed to it. Peterson replied in the affirmative to both questions.

Peterson and his defense team asked for all of the hearsay testimony to be thrown out. Judge Burmila denied that motion.

Judge Burmila asked state prosecutor Chris Koch which sanctions he would impose has the attorney been in the judge's shoes. Koch said those sanctions would be up to Judge Burmila.

"We don't want to take any more low blows," Lopez said.

UNDERSTADING MISTIRAL REQUESTS

FOX Chicago legal analyst Larry Yellen said the judge could still have ruled for a mistrial (without prejudice) without a motion from either side, because the prosecution has made too many mistakes.

Yellen said the issue at the heart of Judge Burmila's decision was whether the jury can come to an impartial decision based on what they've heard thus far in court, and give Drew Peterson a fair trial.

The judge is almost certain to issue sanctions against the prosecution, according to Yellen. The testimony that sparked state prosecutor Kathy Patton's mistake Tuesday could be thrown out. The judge may even bar Patton from participating further in Drew Peterson's murder trial.

Yellen said Judge Burmila has great discretion in this situation.

"Even if the defense doesn't want a mistrial, I don't see how there can be a fair verdict," Yellen said. "Therefore there will be a mistrial. He could do that without a motion from either side. The judge has that authority."

Yellen said it's hard to un-ring a bell. Once the jurors have heard a particular piece of testimony that would cause them to make the leap from "bad guy" to "killer" in their view of Peterson, it's hard to ignore that connection – even if the judge tells them not to factor that testimony into their decision at the end of the trial.

PROSECUTION BLUNDERS AND HEARSAY TESTIMONY

Prosecutors are trying to prove that Peterson, 58, killed his third wife, Kathleen Savio, in 2004. He was charged after his fourth wife, Stacy Peterson, disappeared in 2007.

On Tuesday, Burmila admonished prosecutors for violating his order not to discuss whether Savio asked for an order of protection against Peterson. The prosecutor who mentioned the order apologized to the judge, but Peterson's attorneys called the prosecution's actions unfair and asked for a mistrial.

Burmila told prosecutor Kathleen Patton not to ask a witness in front of jurors about whether Savio had sought an order of protection against Peterson. When she did, the judge told jurors to leave the room and berated the prosecutor.

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

Burmilla said Wednesday that both sides agree Savio did not seek an order of protection in July 2002.

"You are not to consider, infer or ponder for any purpose an order of protection," he told the jury.

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

The prosecution's blunder was the third in as many weeks that prompted Burmila to give serious consideration to declaring a mistrial.

Defense attorney Steve Greenberg spoke with FOX Chicago News before court began on Wednesday. He said that in all of his years, he's never seen trial proceedings come down like this, and he's never seen actions that warrant this many mistrial requests in such a short time.

"I think she made a mistake. I don't think she did it intentionally," Greenberg said. "I have been dealing with Kathy now for several years. I don't think she would do something like that purposely. Not that kind of person. I feel bad for her."

Despite his experience with Patton, Greenberg still wants to take action in the best interest of his client, Drew Peterson.

"My concern is my client. That is my sole concern," Greenberg said. "My concern is not the state's office."

The case has been beset by problems since Savio was found dead in her bathroom at her suburban home. Investigators collected no physical evidence, and authorities initially ruled that Savio accidentally drowned. After Stacy Peterson vanished three years later, Savio's body was re-examined and her death was reclassified as a homicide.

Peterson is also a suspect in Stacy Peterson's disappearance, although he has never been charged in her case. She is presumed dead but a body has never been found.

The judge has in recent days made several rulings in prosecutors' favor, granting them permission to present hearsay evidence central to their case.

Hearsay, or statements not based on the direct knowledge of a witness, is usually not admissible in court, but Illinois passed a law in the wake of the Peterson case that allows it in certain circumstances.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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