Illinois appeals court upholds wife-killer cop's conviction

Reuters News
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Posted: Nov 13, 2015 4:07 PM

By Brendan O'Brien

(Reuters) - An Illinois appeals court on Friday upheld the conviction of a former Chicago-area police officer who was found guilty of killing his third wife during their contentious divorce in 2004.

Lawyers for the officer, Drew Peterson, 61, had argued in their appeal that several errors in the admission of evidence during his trial had a cumulative effect, leading to Peterson being wrongly convicted.

The three-judge panel of the Third District Appellate Court decided unanimously that prosecutors proved beyond a reasonable doubt in 2013 that the former Bolingbrook, Illinois policeman killed his wife Kathleen Savio.

The court wrote in an 87-page opinion that prosecutors successfully used circumstantial evidence to prove that Peterson murdered Savio, whose body was found in an empty bathtub in their home.

The judges wrote that they did not find any errors committed during the trial.

Savio's death was at first ruled accidental. Suspicions were raised when Peterson's fourth wife, Stacy Peterson, disappeared in 2007.

"We are very happy. It's been a long journey," said Will County State's Attorney James Glasgow in a phone interview. "Everything came together and justice was done."

During the sentencing hearing for the Savio murder, Glasgow said to Peterson: "You're a cold-blooded murderer and I'll stare you down until I die."

Peterson, who is serving a 38-year sentence, was charged in February with trying to hire a hit man to kill Glasgow. The trial is set for early 2016.

An attorney for Peterson was not immediately available for comment.

The Peterson case was the inspiration for a Lifetime television network movie, "Untouchable," starring Rob Lowe as Peterson.

The Illinois state legislature passed a law, dubbed "Drew's Law," in response to the case, loosening requirements for circumstantial evidence.

(Reporting by Brendan O'Brien in Milwaukee; editing by Mary Wisniewski and Grant McCool)