Drew Peterson trial: The most critical moments

NEED TO KNOW
  • Drew Peterson is on trial for killing third wife, Kathleen Savio
  • The jury started to deliberate Wednesday
Drew Peterson trial: The most critical moments

For more than a month, jurors in the Drew Peterson murder trial have witnessed shocking testimony and evidence. They began deliberations Wednesday. Here are some of the critical moments the jurors will likely consider as they deliberate.

Background

Peterson is charged with first-degree murder for allegedly killing his third wife, Kathleen Savio, in 2004. Savio’s death was originally ruled an accidental bathtub drowning. But when Peterson’s fourth wife, Stacy, went missing in 2007, the authorities re-opened the investigation of Savio’s death and ruled it a homicide.

Peterson has pleaded not guilty and has been in jail on $20 million bail since he was arrested on May 7, 2009. Stacy’s whereabouts are still unknown. Peterson is not facing any charges related to her disappearance, but he is considered a suspect.

Opening statements

During his opening statement, prosecutor James Glasgow described the relationship between Savio and Peterson as dysfunctional, abusive, and violent. Glasgow said Peterson held a knife to Savio’s throat and threatened her.

Read more: Prosecutor: Peterson held knife to Savio’s throat

Peterson defense attorney Joel Brodsky talked about the former couple’s “dysfunctional” relationship during his opening statement, too, but he blamed it on Savio. 

"They started to fight about money … she would lose her temper easily, over nothing, (and) make a scene," Brodsky said. "He would try to calm her down, but nothing could control Kathy. The marriage had become dysfunctional,” said Brodsky.

Read more: Peterson defense: Savio was ‘angry, bitter woman’

The prosecution's case

During the prosecution’s case, one of Peterson’s former co-workers testified that Peterson asked him to hire a hitman to kill Savio in 2003. Allegedly, Peterson later told his former co-worker, “The favor that I asked of you, I don’t need it anymore.”

Read more: Witness: Drew Peterson asked me to find a hitman

The defense interjected a controversial theory during the prosecution’s case that involved rough sex. Peterson’s attorney asked Savio’s former boyfriend, Steve Maniaci, if bruises on her body were a result of violent sex from the night before she died.

Read more: Did rough sex cause Savio’s bruises?

Dr. Mary Case, a neuropathologist, told the prosecution that Savio’s injuries were not consistent with a bathroom fall.

Prosecutor James Glasgow asked, "Have you seen injuries like this before?”

“From automobile accidents, or similar traumatic incidents, yes,” replied Case.

Read more: Doctor: Savio’s death wasn’t an accident 

Stacy Peterson’s minister, the Rev. Neil Schori, told the jury that Stacy confided in him that Drew Peterson killed Savio. According to Schori, Stacy told him that one night, she woke up and noticed Peterson missing from bed. This was the same night Savio died.

Schori testified that Stacy also told him that when Peterson got home, he washed his clothes and Stacy saw women’s clothing that was not hers. Stacy allegedly told Schori that Peterson later coached her on what to say to the police.

Read more: Stacy said Drew Peterson was a killer 

The defense's case

After the prosecution rested, defense attorney Steve Greenberg motioned for a judgment of acquittal. He argued the prosecution had “not provided any evidence as to the when, how, or who with respect to this particular incident, or disproved that it was an accident.”

Judge Burmila denied the motion and the defense began its case.

Dr. Jeffery Jentzen, a forensic pathologist, testified that Savio died from a fall in the bathtub.

“It’s my opinion that she died from drowning, and the manner of death is accidental," he said. "She slipped and fell, she struck the left side of her body … She sustained a head injury, she was rendered unconscious, and in an unconscious state she drowned in the tub,” said Jentzen.

Read more: Doctor: Drew Peterson’s wife died from a fall 

Harry Smith, Savio’s former divorce attorney, testified that Stacy Peterson planned to divorce Drew Peterson and talked to him about whether she could use the knowledge that Peterson killed Savio as “leverage” in her divorce. “She wanted to know if, in my opinion, the fact that he’d killed Kathy could be used against him,” said Smith. When he testified, Smith was not allowed to mention Stacy’s disappearance on the witness stand.

Read more: Did Stacy Peterson use Savio’s murder as leverage?

Peterson and Savio’s eldest son took the stand in his father’s defense and testified that he has never suspected his father of killing his mother. Thomas Peterson told the jury that he was voluntarily in court because he believed in his father’s innocence.

Almost five weeks after the trial began, the defense rested its case. Moments before, Peterson told the judge, “I will not testify.”

Read more: Peterson: ‘I will not testify:’ defense rests 

Closing arguments

On Tuesday, prosecutor Chris Koch began his closing arguments asking the jury to use “common sense” during deliberations.

"I ask you to keep in mind common sense, common sense. Because it is clear that this man murdered Kathleen Savio," said Koch.

Koch also argued that it would be impossible for Savio to sustain multiple injuries from just a slip in the tub.

“We have left, front injuries, left-side injuries, left-back injuries, right injuries, right and left injuries.  So it's not just one side of her body; it's multiple sides, four sides. How can you get that in one fall? You can't. You can't do it.  It's not possible," said Koch.

Read more: Prosecutor to Peterson jury: Use ‘common sense’

Defense attorney Joe Lopez said during his closing argument that America’s founding fathers would be sickened by the evidence the prosecution presented during its case.

“The Framers of the Constitution would barf at this evidence. There’s nothing but doubt in this case," Lopez said. "People get on the TV and lie, just like they do in this courtroom… People lie when it’s for their own agenda.”

Read more: Defense to jury: ‘Nothing but doubt in this case’

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Drew Peterson: A look at Kathleen Savio's killer
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