TRIBUNE: Rocky start for prosecutors in Drew Peterson trial
It was one of the most dramatic moments on the contentious first day of the murder trial of former Bolingbrook police Sgt. Drew Peterson, who was painted in opening statements Tuesday as an abusive killer by prosecutors and the victim of rumor and hearsay by the defense.
It was a tension-filled beginning for the long-awaited trial, and a rocky start for prosecutors, who lost battles to include what they said were essential parts of their first day's evidence and narrowly avoided a potential mistrial. Both sides objected at length during opening statements. A defense attorney was admonished by the trial judge for essentially testifying about his view of Peterson's personal history.
By the end of the openings, Savio's family complained that she appeared to be the one on trial, as defense attorney Joel Brodsky repeatedly called her "bonkers" and "crazy."
Peterson, 58, is on trial in the 2004 drowning of Savio, 40. Her death initially was called an accident but was reinvestigated after Peterson's fourth wife, Stacy, vanished in 2007, sparking a national media frenzy. Peterson is the sole suspect in her disappearance but has not been charged in that case.
State's Attorney James Glasgow asked jurors during his opening statement to use their common sense in judging a mostly circumstantial case. He carefully avoided mention of the hearsay evidence they hope to use but read excerpts from Peterson's interviews on the "Today" show and "Larry King Live."
"There's no DNA, fingerprints or videotaped confession," he said. "Your common-sense experience from everyday life, that's worth more than anything else you bring into the jury box."
The original investigation into Savio's death was botched, police and prosecutors have said, and there is no physical evidence tying Peterson to Savio's alleged murder.
"In this case, you're going to hear nothing but myth, rumor and hearsay," Brodsky said in his opening statement. "But in court, you have a man's life in your hands. You have to ignore the myth and focus on the facts, and when you do, you'll find out what my client is, and that is not guilty."
Brodsky told jurors that Savio "lies and makes up stories to fit her purpose," an apparent swipe at hearsay statements prosecutors hope to introduce in which Savio told others she feared Peterson would kill her.
Brodsky said outside court that he was trying to demonstrate to jurors that Savio's fighting spirit made it unlikely that she could have been overcome by an attacker without creating a chaotic murder scene.
"It seems like they're trying to make Drew the victim instead of Kathy," Savio's stepmother, Marcia Savio, said outside the courtroom. "Kathy was always a strong girl, and the problem is, she wasn't strong enough."
Defense attorney Joe Lopez said outside court that his client was "a victim of the system."
CLICK FOR THE FULL NEWS STORY