Officer: 4th Peterson wife upset over 3rd’s death
JOLIET, Ill. (AP) – Just two days after his third wife’s body was found, Drew Peterson sat on a card-table chair next to his tearful fourth wife and corrected at least one of her answers as state police interviewed her about the death, the lead investigator told jurors on Wednesday.
The dramatic testimony came as prosecutors in Peterson’s murder trial continued to try to show that the initial investigation into the 2004 drowning of 40-year-old Kathleen Savio was badly botched and that investigators overlooked potentially key evidence as they rallied to protect a fellow officer from scrutiny.
Peterson – charged in Savio’s death only after his fourth wife, 23-year-old Stacy Peterson, went missing in 2007 – had his hand on Stacy’s knee and his arm around her shoulder during the interview in the basement of the couple’s home, retired Illinois State Police sergeant Patrick Collins said.
“He sat very close to Stacy as we proceeded to ask questions,” Collins recalled. “She was very distraught.”
As he spoke, Collins turned to look directly at jurors and at times glanced at Drew Peterson. Peterson, now 58, sat forward attentively, once standing up during cross examination and appearing to suggest a question that his attorney could put to the witness.
According to Collins, Drew Peterson asked if he could sit in on the 2004 interview as a “professional courtesy,” and the 26-year state police veteran agreed. Collins conceded it was unusual to let one potential witness sit in on the interview of another, saying he had never done it before and never did it again.
As investigators asked Stacy Peterson about Drew Peterson’s whereabouts around the time Savio died, her then-husband continually rubbed his hand across his face, Collins testified. At one point, he even corrected Stacy Peterson about what they had eaten for breakfast one day, Collins said.
“He corrected her, saying, (it was) bacon and sausage,” Collins told jurors.
Outside observers may be inclined to link Savio’s death to Stacy Peterson’s disappearance, but jurors aren’t supposed to make any such links. The presiding judge has prohibited prosecutors from telling jurors Stacy Peterson is presumed dead or that Drew Peterson is a suspect in her disappearance. He is not charged.
During the 2004 interview at the Petersons’ home, located just blocks from Savio’s house where she was found dead in her bathtub, Stacy Peterson became increasingly emotional, Collins testified.
“She became shaken and started to cry,” Collins said. “And (so) we shut the interview down.” He said that was the first and last time he ever interviewed her.
During cross-examination, defense attorney Joel Brodsky suggested that Stacy Peterson was upset – not because she might have thought Savio was murdered, but that Savio’s death meant she would also have to care for Savio’s two children.
Drew and Stacy Peterson had married shortly before Savio was found dead. There was acrimony between the two women because years earlier, Drew Peterson started dating Stacy Cales, who was 30 years younger. In a letter, Savio once accused Stacy of driving by her house and making rude gestures.
Collins and other investigators who arrived at Savio’s house on March 1, 2004, after her body was found have testified that they quickly concluded she died from an accidental fall. As a result, they didn’t bother trying to collect fingerprints, strands of hair, blood or any other physical evidence.
That has put prosecutors in a quandary, forcing them to rely on circumstantial and normally barred hearsay evidence.
The defense has argued the Savio investigation was perfectly adequate and that there was no evidence tying Peterson to Savio’s death.
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