By Adam Kirby
JOLIET, Illinois (Reuters) - A pathologist testified at the murder trial of former Chicago-area police sergeant Drew Peterson Thursday that injuries on the body of Peterson's estranged wife appeared to be the result of a struggle, not an accident.
Peterson is accused of killing Kathleen Savio, his third wife, in 2004 while they were engaged in a contentious divorce and then staging her death to look like an accidental drowning.
Testimony in the month-long trial in Joliet, Illinois concluded Thursday, and closing arguments are set to begin next Tuesday.
Before the state rested its case, prosecutors called forensic pathologist Michael Baden, who performed a third autopsy on Savio's body at the behest of her family in 2007.
Baden told jurors the pattern of injuries could not have been the result of a single fall, disputing assertions of two other pathologists who testified on behalf of the defense earlier this week that Savio's death was caused by an accidental fall in her bathtub.
Bruises found on Savio's chest and arms, and an abrasion to her buttocks, are consistent with what would be expected from a defensive struggle, Baden said.
"The minor injuries to the hands and wrist could have occurred while she was trying to defend herself," he said.
Investigators initially ruled Savio's death accidental, but suspicions were raised when Peterson's fourth wife, Stacy Peterson, disappeared in 2007.
Savio's body was exhumed and re-examined and Peterson was charged with murder.
Little physical evidence links Peterson to Savio's death, and the prosecution's case has relied largely on hearsay testimony.
In a strange twist on Wednesday, Peterson's defense team called Savio's divorce attorney, Harry Smith, who testified that Stacy Peterson told him her husband killed Savio. Prosecutors were pleased with the defense's decision to call Smith to the stand.
The Peterson case was the subject of a popular Lifetime television network movie, "Untouchable," starring Rob Lowe. Peterson is the sole suspect in the disappearance of Stacy Peterson, who has never been found. His first and second wives have remarried.
(Reporting by Adam Kirby; Editing by Mary Wisniewski and Eric Walsh)