With jury selection finished, it’s showtime for Drew Peterson
BY JON SEIDEL AND DAN ROZEK Sun-Times Media July 24, 2012 9:02AM
Steven Greenberg (left) and Joel Brodsky (center), attorneys for Drew Peterson, arrive at the Will County Courthouse after addressing the media Tuesday, July 24, 2012, in Joliet. | Matthew Grotto~Sun-Times Media
Updated: August 26, 2012 6:11AM
It’s nearly showtime, and Drew Peterson looks ready.
The 58-year-old former Bolingbrook police sergeant spent two days of jury selection looking sharp — once his lawyers found him pants that fit — attentive, confident and engaged as the final members of a seven-man, five-woman jury revealed themselves.
Known for his cocky wisecracks, Peterson is on best behavior these days.
“I’m Drew Peterson,” he said, greeting a new group of potential jurors to the courtroom Tuesday. “I’m the defendant in this case. I’d like to thank you for your time and wish you a good day.”
Hours later defense lawyers and prosecutors finished a task once expected to last all week — picking 12 jurors and four alternates out of a 200-member jury pool who will decide whether he murdered his third wife, 40-year-old Kathleen Savio.
Now all he has to do is wait for July 31 when his long-awaited trial will begin in earnest with opening statements. He’s already waited more than three years.
“We got a good jury picked, certainly a better jury than I think anyone thought we would have ended up with at the start,” defense attorney Steven Greenberg said. “The fact is somebody died, it’s serious, but all the jury has to decide now is whether or not he did it. And they’re not going to be able to find he did it because there’s no evidence that he did it.”
Greenberg and fellow members of the defense team acted feisty when Tuesday’s hearing ended. They even responded to questions about Peterson’s missing fourth wife with comments like “Stacy who?”
But Will County State’s Attorney Jim Glasgow maintained his normal cool, tight-lipped confidence about the case.
“We’re anxious to get to trial and put the evidence before the jury and move this case to conclusion,” Glasgow said.
Among the four jurors added Tuesday morning were a soon-to-be retiree and a secretary who heard her co-workers discuss whether Hollywood star Rob Lowe looked like Peterson while portraying him in a TV movie earlier this year.
Four alternate jurors — one woman and three men — also were selected Tuesday.
Defense attorney Joseph Lopez and other members of Peterson’s legal team praised the diversity of a panel that represents a wide range of ages and ethnic groups, including two black jurors and a Hispanic juror.
“That’s an exact mirror of the people who live here,” Lopez said.
Glasgow was less effusive but indicated he was satisfied with the jurors selected.
“We’re very happy with how jury selection went,” Glasgow said.
A marathon 12-hour session on Monday saw eight jurors selected.
One complication arose early Tuesday when a juror selected a day earlier complained that the trial will interfere with upcoming vacation plans.
Will County Judge Edward Burmila and the attorneys on both sides agreed to dismiss the man from the panel, then quickly selected as a replacement a Plainfield man questioned Monday.
Work on picking the jury also had to be delayed shortly at the start of the morning when Peterson’s attorneys asked for new clothes for their client because the pants he planned to wear were too snug.
“They don’t have good tailors in the jail,” defense attorney Joel Brodsky joked outside the courtroom.
A new pair was found and the proceedings began.
Peterson is accused of drowning Savio in the midst of their ugly divorce. Her body was found March 1, 2004, in her dry bathtub. Authorities first ruled her death an accident. When Peterson’s fourth wife, Stacy, disappeared in 2007, investigators exhumed Savio’s body and concluded her death was a homicide.
Defense attorneys and prosecutors questioned potential jurors about their exposure to the TV movie and news stories about the case.
But they also questioned jurors about their own backgrounds, including whether they or their close friends or relatives had been divorced.
A potential juror who wasn’t selected for the panel recounted how her father had been divorced three times, a situation that mirrors Peterson’s domestic track record.
“He was on wife No. 4 when he passed away,” the juror said of her father.
Peterson was married to fourth wife Stacy Peterson when Savio died, though the ex-spouses were still fighting over their financial assets.
But the prospective juror said she wouldn’t be biased against Peterson if details of his divorce battle with Savio surfaced during the trial.
“You need to know both sides,” she said.
Another woman said she heard only quick mentions about the Peterson case on the radio, but avoided all other coverage of the case.
“There’s nothing I sought out and nothing I listened to,” she said.
Still another nervous member of the jury pool said she works in a prison. And she said she could never send anyone there.
“I know what happens,” she said.