Drew Peterson avoids being confronted by former sister-in-law
BY DAN ROZEK and JANET LUNDQUIST Staff Reporters August 24, 2012 1:26PM
Cassandra Cales (Stacey Peterson's sister) talks to the media during lunch from the Drew Peterson case at the Will County Court house. Friday, August 24, 2012 | Brian Jackson~Sun Times
Updated: September 26, 2012 6:05AM
Drew Peterson avoided a face-to-face courtroom confrontation Friday with the sister of his missing wife as Will County prosecutors called their final witness in the former Bolingbrook cop’s murder trial.
Prosecutors are expected to formally rest their case Monday after offering to jurors several documents, including transcripts of two TV interviews Peterson gave before his 2009 arrest.
Defense attorneys said they then will ask Judge Edward Burmila to toss out the murder charges against the 58-year-old Peterson because prosecutors failed during their four weeks of testimony to prove he drowned Kathleen Savio in 2004.
That’s a long shot, but defense attorneys — who have consistently belittled the circumstantial case presented by prosecutors — said Burmila could order a so-called directed verdict that would acquit Peterson before he calls a witness.
Prosecutors simply haven’t proved he had any role in the death of his third wife — or even shown exactly how the 40-year-old Bolingbrook woman drowned in her bathtub, they said.
“What happened? Today, we still don’t know,” defense attorney Joel Brodsky said.
State’s Attorney James Glasgow wouldn’t directly address the issue, though he has argued during the trial that Peterson killed Savio to end their heated divorce battle over financial assets, then tried to make her death look like an accident.
Outside court on Friday, Glasgow said only that he’s pleased prosecutors have essentially completed their portion of the trial.
“It’s good to come to the end of our case. We look forward to proceeding next week,” Glasgow said.
Neither of the two most dramatic witnesses initially expected to testify Friday ended up taking the witness stand.
That included Cassandra Cales — the sister of Peterson’s fourth wife, Stacy — who was expected to simply confirm her missing sibling’s cell phone number.
Peterson’s attorneys agreed to accept a written statement in place of her testimony, which would have required her to sit across the Joliet courtroom from the man who has been named a suspect in Stacy’s 2007 disappearance, but has never been charged.
Going on the witness stand would have been frustrating because she would have been kept from saying what she really wants to say to Peterson, Cales said later outside the courtroom. But she would have held her tongue to help prosecutors win a conviction against Peterson for Savio’s death.
“My turn’s coming, for Stacy. No doubt,” Cales said. “I’m ready for [any verdict], but a conviction is coming.”
She said she was pleased Peterson has remained in custody since his May 2009 arrest.
“It’s always good to see [Peterson] locked up, not in control,” Cales said. “It makes me feel good to see that.”
Savio’s divorce attorney Harry Smith also was expected to testify about a letter Savio wrote to prosecutors in 2002 after she claimed Peterson threatened her with a knife in her home.
Burmila agreed to admit her written statement without requiring Smith to testify, though defense attorneys have said they may attempt to question him during their case about his work in representing Savio during her divorce from Peterson.
Also allowed as evidence were transcripts of two interviews Peterson gave in 2007 and 2008 to CNN and NBC. Burmila earlier had barred jurors from seeing video clips of those interviews, ruling that would be too prejudicial to Peterson.
Burmila, though, blocked prosecutors from showing jurors documents describing how Peterson’s child support payments for his two sons with Savio nearly doubled about three weeks before the alleged July 5, 2002 knife incident.
“It’s irrelevant,” Brodsky said, explaining why defense attorneys asked to keep out that document and another showing Peterson later was ordered to pay $15,000 to Savio for her attorney’s fees.
The final prosecution witness prosecutors called was Bolingbrook Police Lt. Brian Hafner, who testified Peterson in 1984 had been certified as an evidence technician.
Prosecutors successfully argued for that testimony, contending Peterson’s expertise could give him “a leg up” in misleading investigators examining an unusual death like Savio’s.