Drew Peterson is guilty of first-degree murder. A jury foreman announced the verdict in court Thursday afternoon, convicting Peterson of killing his third wife, Kathleen Savio, in 2004 -- but we’ll see him in court again.
He still has to be sentenced on November 26, and Peterson’s attorneys say they will appeal the verdict.
Peterson has been in jail since May 7, 2009, when he was arrested, but he won’t know how much longer he’ll spend behind bars until Judge Edward Burmila gathers some information. Burmila has ordered a pre-sentencing investigation, which means he will be presented with an assessment of Peterson’s crime and Illinois sentencing guidelines. Peterson is facing somewhere between 20 and 60 years in prison.
When the investigation is presented to the court, Peterson will get a score based on numerous criteria, including mitigating factors and aggravating factors. Based on that score, the minimum and maximum range for his sentence will be determined.
In Session's legal experts say an appeal is the most likely next step for Peterson’s defense. Based on what Peterson’s attorney, Joel Brodsky, said after the verdict, it certainly looks like that’s the plan, “You know what they say, a conviction is a first step in a successful appeal.”
The prosecution in Peterson’s case made a series of decisions during the trial that provoked the defense to file multiple motions for mistrial, all of which were denied by Burmila. Some of the prosecutions’ actions disobeyed direct orders from the court.
The most likely appeals could include the following claims:
There’s also the chance that Peterson could face more criminal charges. Peterson could be charged for his alleged role in the disappearance of his fourth wife, Stacy Peterson.
Savio was found dead in 2004. Investigators first ruled it an accident, but the case was reopened in 2007 when Peterson’s fourth wife, Stacy Peterson, went missing. Investigators exhumed and re-examined Savio’s body and said her death was a homicide. Stacy’s whereabouts are still unknown. Peterson is not facing any charges related to her disappearance, but he is a suspect.