Peterson jury hears paramedic tell of cold, waxy body

Reuters News
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Posted: Aug 02, 2012 4:47 PM
Peterson jury hears paramedic tell of cold, waxy body

By Joseph Hosey

JOLIET, Illinois (Reuters) - The paramedic who testified on Thursday at the murder trial of Drew Peterson, a former police officer accused of killing his third wife, said her body was cold and waxy in the bathtub where he found her.

Kathleen Savio's body was found in a bathtub in 2004 and the death was initially considered an accidental drowning. But suspicions were raised when Peterson's fourth wife, Stacy Peterson, disappeared in 2007. Savio's body was exhumed and reexamined and Peterson was charged with murder.

The testimony from paramedic Louis Oleszkiewicz came after Will County Judge Edward Burmila rejected a second request this week from defense attorneys to declare a mistrial.

There is little physical evidence linking Peterson to the death of Savio, so prosecutors have been trying to introduce testimony this week including statements that he made threats and tried to hire a hit man.

Defense attorneys have objected to the testimony as hearsay and have moved unsuccessfully for a mistrial twice.

Oleszkiewicz described finding Savio's body when he was dispatched to her home in March 2004 to assist an unresponsive woman.

Like Savio's next-door neighbor, Thomas Pontarelli, who testified on Wednesday, Oleszkiewicz said he does not remember a blue towel that appears in photos of the crime scene, being there when he first arrived at the home.

Oleszkiewicz also said there was no "sediment ring" in the bathtub and that only officers from the Chicago suburban Bolingbrook Police Department -- not state troopers or investigators -- were at the house when he was arrived. Peterson is a former Bolingbrook policeman.

Locksmith Robert Akin also testified on Thursday. Akin said that on the night Savio's body was found, he did not know whose house he was opening or why he was opening it.

Akin said he was met at the house by Peterson, who was in uniform. He picked the doorknob lock, which could be locked from the outside without a key. A deadbolt that needed a key to lock from the outside was unlocked, he said.

Once the door was opened, Akin said, people he did not know went inside. Akin recalled staying on the porch. He said that while he packed his tools he was "chit-chatting" with Peterson.

Shortly after opening the door, Akin said, "There was, like a lot of commotion, screaming."

Peterson then "just looked and said, 'I got to go,'" and went in the house, Akin said.

The Peterson case has drawn national attention and was the subject of a popular Lifetime television network movie "Untouchable" starring Rob Lowe. Peterson's fourth wife Stacy has never been found and he is the sole suspect in her disappearance. His first and second wives have remarried.

The trial continues in Will County court near Chicago.

(Writing by James Kelleher; Editing by Greg McCune and Leslie Gevirtz)