Talking Peterson: No shortage of opinions among courthouse crowd
By Janet Lundquist email@example.com July 30, 2012 6:56PM
Will County State's Attorney James Glasgow (at right) is surrounded by media during lunch break in the jury selection for Drew Peterson at the Will County Courthouse Tuesday, July 24, 2012, in Joliet. | Matthew Grotto~Sun-Times Media
Updated: September 1, 2012 6:03AM
The Will County residents who will decide Drew Peterson’s fate take on the task with a pledge to keep an open mind about the case.
Not so for the Will County residents who linger outside on the courthouse plaza — waiting for a scheduled court appearance, waiting on a friend, or just killing time.
Most of them have their minds made up about the former Bolingbrook cop, and opinions on which way the case will go.
“I think they’re going to find him not guilty,” said Jackie Zenek, 30, of Beecher, who sat on a stone bench outside the courthouse. “Yeah, I think he did it, but it doesn’t matter what we think.”
As a group of television crew members set up a row of cameras facing a courthouse exit last week, waiting for Peterson lawyers and prosecutors to leave for lunch, Zenek said she was expecting tighter courthouse security when she showed up for her court appointment.
But she was able to get in and out of the courthouse without a wait, despite the media presence for jury selection.
Opening statements in Peterson’s murder trial are scheduled for Tuesday, which will draw even bigger crowds of media and spectators than the two days of jury selection did.
That’s what the owners of Red Goose Bakery and Cafe, located on Chicago Street with a view of the courthouse, are hoping for.
The restaurant is planning to offer a discount to both members of the media and jurors, already delivers, and is pondering an expansion of its hours, normally 7 a.m. to 4 p.m., said Rae Wesley, who owns the restaurant with her husband, John.
“The best-case scenario is for (jurors) to, as much as possible, set aside ... what they’ve read, what they’ve heard. Draw a conclusion based on the case,” said Wesley, who had a career as a lawyer before she opened the cafe.
“I think Drew Peterson proves everyone’s entitled to their day in court,” she said.
Back outside the courthouse, James, 58, of Joliet, declined to give his last name but didn’t hesitate to elaborate on his opinion of Peterson or the murder case.
“I think that he’ll win it. If he don’t win it, I think they’re shanghaiing him,” he said.
While he said he believes Peterson is being unfairly prosecuted with hearsay evidence, he also wasn’t too happy with the defense team’s demeanor.
“I resent the smirks that Drew and his lawyer be having. They think it’s a game or something,” he said, leaning forward on the handlebars of the bicycle he was sitting on.
Matthew Brown, 35, of Joliet, said he believes Peterson will have a fair jury, and questioned how much evidence prosecutors have to use against Peterson.
“Every time he’s on the news he’s always with that smirk on his face, like, ‘If I did it, so what? I’ll get away with it,’ ” Brown said.
A resident of Peterson’s old stomping ground, Walter Wallace, 70, of Bolingbrook, said he believes Peterson is guilty.
“There’s no way he’ll get a fair trial. He’s going to have to suffer,” Wallace said, adding that he bases his opinions on what he’s seen and heard on the news.
“To me, he’s a rotten guy,” Wallace said. “He don’t need justice at all. He needs to suffer behind bars like so many people he put behind bars.”