Drew Peterson's Fate in Jury's Hands Wednesday
Closing arguments in the Drew Peterson murder trial took up all of Tuesday, so the judge is going to send the jury out to decide the accused wife-killer's guilt or innocence Wednesday morning.
"Everybody in America wants Drew Peterson convicted," one of the ex-cop's lawyers said outside court after closing arguments in the most sensational murder case in Will County's history.
And if that's the case, it's bad news for the accused wife-killer, as it won't take the whole world to ship Peterson off to prison, just the 12 men and women on his jury.
Sometime after Wednesday morning, the whole world is going to find out if those 12 think the way defense attorney Joseph "Shark" Lopez suspects everyone else does, as that's when Judge Edward Burmila said he will send them out to deliberate over Peterson's guilt or innocence.
"Everybody is dying for Drew to lose this case because misery loves company," Lopez said enigmatically.
The jury was set to begin deliberations today, but closing arguments lasted longer than Burmila expected. The judge—who did not allow the jury to eat lunch until after 3:30 p.m.—called a halt to the day after they returned from their meal.
At the start of today's session, Burmila said he was going to limit closing arguments to an hour and 45 minutes for each side. Prosecutors were supposed to keep both their initial statement and rebuttal within the 105-minute window.
But after Assistant State's Attorney Chris Koch made the prosecution's first argument, Lopez took the floor for more than two hours and 20 minutes. Judge Burmila then announced he was changing the rules in the middle of the game and said prosecutors could have additional time for their rebuttal.
In his argument, Koch ran through the damning statements Peterson's third wife, Kathleen Savio, supposedly made prior to dying. The statements generally concerned predictions that Peterson would kill her. Savio allegedly said something to the effect of Peterson killing her and making her death look like the result of an accident to such people as her sisters, her friends, a police officer, an assistant state's attorney and her divorce lawyer.
"I'm going to kill you," Koch said, parroting Peterson's supposed threat. "You're not going to make it to the divorce settlement. You're not going to get the pension. You're not going to get the kids."
Savio was found drowned in her dry bathtub in March 2004. Investigators with the Illinois State Police quickly concluded Savio had perished in a freak bathtub accident, despite the unusual circumstances of her death scene and the acrimonious divorce she and Peterson had been battling out for nearly two years.
The divorce appeared to be coming to a resolution with Savio poised to claim a great deal of the marital assets just weeks after she died.
The Savio case remained closed until Peterson's next wife, Stacy Peterson, mysteriously vanished in October 2007. Savio's body was then pulled from its grave and subjected to additional autopsies, and the state police got around to charging Peterson with her murder in May 2009.
The five doctors—three for the prosecution and two for the defense—who testified during the trial based their findings on research conducted more than three and a half years after Savio died.
Lopez, during his closing argument, called into question how the prosecution's doctors could have decided that Savio was the victim of a homicide. And he pointed out that if she did actually die in an accident, as a coroner's jury ruled in 2004, then all the testimony about her predictions of murder are inconsequential.
Lopez saved his most scathing vitriol for Smith, whom he referred to as "Smiley."
When discussing Smith with the jury, Lopez flashed an image of a grinning, purple Cheshire cat onto a large screen.
Lopez likely lashed out at Smith with such aggression due to the Wheaton attorney's managing to possibly torpedo Peterson's defense single-handedly.
Peterson attorney Joel Brodsky made the unfathomable decision to call Smith as the second-to-last witness in the defense case. Brodsky seemingly hoped to besmirch Stacy's reputation by painting her as a gold-digger and blackmailer.
A rattled Brodsky stammered through his questioning of Smith. At one point Brodsky accused the witness of looking to prosecutors for cues about what to say. He also complained to the judge that Smith was making faces.
Smith beamed broadly at Brodsky throughout his testimony, or as Lopez put it Tuesday, he was "grinning like a Cheshire cat."
In his rebuttal argument, Will County State's Attorney James Glasgow asked the jury to look at each piece of evidence like a stick that can be broken on its own, but not when tied together in a bundle with other sticks.
"When you put all this evidence together, it's solid, it's real, and it proves Drew Peterson killed Kathleen Savio in cold blood," Glasgow said.
After court, Savio's sister and brother-in-law, Susan and Mitch Doman, said they found Lopez disrespectful, particularly when he spoke of using a ouija board to determine how Savio died.
Susan Doman also told of how Peterson fought his wife when she tried to take their sons to church.
"She'd take her kids to church on Sunday and she'd come out and her car would be gone because Drew did not want them to be brought up in the Catholic religion," Susan Doman said.
The Savio sister went on to speak of the trust she feels that the jury will find Peterson guilty.
"I know it doesn't take a brain scientist to figure out what happened and why," she said. "The truth is the truth and the truth will come out."