Judge in Peterson case considers mistrial request
JOLIET, Ill. (AP) — The judge in Drew Peterson’s murder trial said he will announce Wednesday afternoon whether to declare a mistrial after blasting prosecutors a second time for bringing up information that could make the former police officer look bad in the eyes of the jury.
A furious Judge Edward Burmila sent jurors out of the courtroom before grilling prosecutor Kathleen Patton for allowing a witness to mention a bullet and leave the impression that Peterson left it in the witness’ driveway. Burmila then took a recess to allow defense attorneys to file a motion for mistrial.
“It can’t be reckless, it is intentional,” Peterson attorney Steve Greenberg told the judge when court reconvened, arguing that prosecutors violated court orders.
Peterson was charged in the 2004 death of his third wife, Kathleen Savio, after his fourth wife, Stacy Peterson, went missing in 2007. Drew Peterson is suspected in her disappearance but hasn’t been charged.
Patton said prosecutors didn’t deliberately try to get the witness, former Peterson neighbor Thomas Pontarelli, to mention that he found the .38-caliber bullet on his driveway.
The judge appeared close to declaring a mistrial Tuesday after a prosecutor began to discuss an allegation that Peterson once tried to hire a hit man.
Prosecutors contend Peterson killed Savio and tried to make it look like an accident. Defense attorney Joel Brodsky told jurors repeatedly during his opening statement that there was no evidence Savio’s death was anything but a tragic accident.
Peterson’s real-life drama inspired a TV movie starring Rob Lowe, and many speculated whether the former police sergeant used his law-enforcement expertise to get away with Savio’s murder and make 23-year-old Stacy Peterson vanish.
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