Skip to main content

Jury selection gets under way in the Drew Peterson murder trial

By Ed Payne, CNN
updated 4:19 PM EDT, Mon July 23, 2012
Drew Peterson is a suspect in his fourth wife's disappearance and has been questioned about the murder of his third wife.
Drew Peterson is a suspect in his fourth wife's disappearance and has been questioned about the murder of his third wife.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Drew Peterson's attorney says the trial should last about a month
  • Peterson is charged in the 2004 death of Kathleen Savio, his third wife
  • In April, an Illinois appellate court ruled hearsay evidence may be used against Peterson

(CNN) -- Jury selection began Monday in the murder trial of former Chicago-area police officer Drew Peterson, who is accused of killing his third wife and is the leading suspect in the disappearance of his fourth.

Opening statements are scheduled for next week. Peterson's attorney Joel Brodsky told CNN's sister network In Session that he expects the trial to last about a month.

Peterson, 58, is charged in the 2004 death of his third wife, Kathleen Savio. He also remains under investigation in the October 2007 disappearance of fourth wife, Stacy Peterson.

In April, an Illinois appellate court ruled that prosecutors may use potentially incriminating statements made by Savio and Peterson's still-missing wife against him -- a key development in the case.

Ex-cop attends hearing in wife's death

Drew Peterson reacts to Lifetime movie
Drew Peterson calls movie 'hysterical'

The ruling overturned an earlier judge's decision that forbid prosecutors from using eight statements made by Savio before her death and by Stacy Peterson before her disappearance.

When Savio was found dead in a bathtub in 2004, it was ruled accidental. She had been divorced from Peterson for about five months when she died, though a court was still deciding how their marital assets would be divided. Savio was to receive part of Peterson's pension and other support.

Just eight days after his divorce from Savio, Peterson married Stacy Cales, then 19.

After Stacy Peterson went missing in October 2007, her husband became the focus of a police investigation. Authorities exhumed Savio's body and conducted a second autopsy, this time ruling her death a homicide.

Since Savio is dead and Stacy Peterson is missing, the defense has argued that using their alleged statements to family and friends violates Peterson's Sixth Amendment right to confront the witnesses against him.

Among the statements the appeal court allowed is one in which Stacy told her pastor that she saw Drew Peterson return home the morning Savio died, dressed in black and carrying a bag of women's clothes that were not hers.

Drew Peterson goes on trial in 3rd wife's death; 4th wife still missing

In general, hearsay statements made to third parties cannot be introduced at trial unless a defendant can cross-examine the person who made them. There are some exceptions if prosecutors can prove the statement is reliable. But a new Illinois law, which some call "Drew's Law," goes beyond those exceptions.

The law, passed in 2008 while investigators were looking for Stacy Peterson, allows courts to consider statements from "unavailable witnesses," provided prosecutors can prove the witness was killed to prevent his or her testimony.

The intrigue surrounding the case has added to Drew Peterson's mystique and prompted the Lifetime movie "Drew Peterson: Untouchable," which set a ratings record of 5.8 million viewers for the channel when it premiered in January.

Peterson finds Lifetime movie "laughable"

Peterson's attorney: Drew will get first class defense

Get a glimpse of Drew Peterson's home

In Session's Michael Christian contributed to this report.

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
updated 10:26 AM EST, Wed February 6, 2013
Advocates say the exam includes unnecessarily invasive and irrelevant procedures -- like a so-called "two finger" test.
updated 7:09 PM EST, Tue February 5, 2013
Supplies of food, clothing and fuel are running short in Damascus and people are going hungry as the civil war drags on.
updated 1:01 PM EST, Wed February 6, 2013
Supporters of Richard III want a reconstruction of his head to bring a human aspect to a leader portrayed as a murderous villain.
updated 10:48 AM EST, Tue February 5, 2013
Robert Fowler spent 130 days held hostage by the same al Qaeda group that was behind the Algeria massacre. He shares his experience.
updated 12:07 AM EST, Wed February 6, 2013
As "We are the World" plays, a video shows what looks like a nuclear attack on the U.S. Jim Clancy reports on a bizarre video from North Korea.
The relationship is, once again, cold enough to make Obama's much-trumpeted "reset" in Russian-U.S. relations seem thoroughly off the rails.
Ten years on, what do you think the Iraq war has changed in you, and in your country? Send us your thoughts and experiences.
updated 7:15 AM EST, Tue February 5, 2013
Musician Daniela Mercury has sold more than 12 million albums worldwide over a career span of nearly 30 years.
Photojournalist Alison Wright travelled the world to capture its many faces in her latest book, "Face to Face: Portraits of the Human Spirit."
updated 7:06 PM EST, Tue February 5, 2013
Europol claims 380 soccer matches, including top level ones, were fixed - as the scandal widens, CNN's Dan Rivers looks at how it's done.
updated 7:37 AM EST, Wed February 6, 2013
That galaxy far, far away is apparently bigger than first thought. The "Star Wars" franchise will get two spinoff movies, Disney announced.
updated 7:27 PM EDT, Fri July 25, 2014
It's an essential part of any trip, an activity we all take part in. Yet almost none of us are any good at it. Souvenir buying is too often an obligatory slog.
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT