Jury selected for Drew Peterson murder trial
JOLIET, Ill. (AP) – A poet, letter carrier and motorcycle enthusiast made the final cut Tuesday onto the jury for former suburban Chicago police officer Drew Peterson’s murder trial.
Now that jury selection is over, attorneys will turn their attention to the presentation of evidence, or that lack thereof, starting next week. The newly selected jurors get this week off as attorneys prepare their opening statements, set for Tuesday.
Peterson, 58, was charged in the 2004 death of his third wife, Kathleen Savio, after his fourth wife, Stacy Peterson, disappeared in 2007.
Lead defense attorney Joel Brodsky told reporters after the last of 12 jurors and four alternates were chosen that he was eager to deliver his opening.
“You will hear the story of Drew Peterson from beginning to end,” he said. During testimony, which should begin immediately after openings, he added that, “We will show that the state’s theory is implausible at best.”
Prosecutors say Peterson killed Savio because he feared their divorce settlement would wipe him out financially. Her body was found in a bathtub in her home, her hair soaked in blood, just before the settlement was to be finalized.
The jury is likely to hear statements Savio and Stacy Peterson allegedly made to friends and relatives about threats from Peterson. Such hearsay is usually barred, but an appellate court ruled jurors can hear the statements.
Will County’s chief prosecutor, James Glasgow, will deliver the state’s opening statement. He pushed ahead with the prosecution despite an apparent lack of any physical evidence and the state’s heavy reliance on hearsay.
“We’re anxious to get the trial started,” he told reporters, his somber tone a contrast to the eagerness he expressed to get testimony under way. “We have finally come to the point we’ve been waiting for.”
Savio’s death was ruled accidental until police began investigating the disappearance of Stacy Peterson, who authorities believe is dead. The defense has said Stacy, who was 30 years younger than Drew, ran off with another man.
Asked by a reporter if any of the defense lawyers assembled by the steps of the Joliet courthouse Tuesday really believed Stacy Peterson was still alive, several answered without missing a beat, “Absolutely!”
Juror selection started Monday and took just two days. The judge and attorneys quickly struck dozens of people from the jury pool, including several who watched a cable TV movie about the case starring Rob Lowe as Peterson.
The jurors also include a woman who said she likes to read the National Inquirer but doesn’t believe everything in the tabloid and a research technician whose favorite TV show is “Criminal Minds.”
Seven men of the jurors are men and five are women. Nine are white, two are African-Americans and one is Hispanic.
Those struck from the jury included a woman whose father, like Peterson, was divorced three times.
Proceedings were delayed for several minutes Tuesday morning so Peterson could change out of some ill-fitting pants, attorneys said. They finally began with the former Bolingbrook police officer entering, looking relaxed, in a blue blazer and dress pants.
The court has permitted Peterson to appear without handcuffs and to ditch his jail garb to avoid prejudicing him in jurors’ eyes. He also has shaved his trademark mustache for the trial.
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