New case looming over guilty verdict

Spectators outside the Joliet, Ill., courthouse support the guilty verdict of a former police officer in his wife's killing . Getty Images
Spectators outside the Joliet, Ill., courthouse support the guilty verdict of a former police officer in his wife's killing . Getty Images
Posted: September 08, 2012

JOLIET, Ill. - She loomed over Drew Peterson's murder trial, though her disappearance and the suspicion that the former Illinois police officer killed her was never mentioned in front of the jury.

But since jurors found Peterson guilty Thursday of first-degree murder in the 2004 death of his third wife, Kathleen Savio, his fourth wife, Stacy Peterson, could now take center stage.

"We are going to aggressively review that case with an eye towards potentially charging it," Will County State's Attorney James Glasgow told reporters outside the Joliet courthouse shortly after jurors convicted Drew Peterson of killing Savio.

While Peterson faces up to 60 years in prison, the legal issues surrounding the accusations against him may be far from resolved. In addition to the separate Stacy Peterson case, his attorneys have vowed to appeal Thursday's conviction based on the unprecedented amount of secondhand hearsay evidence entered at trial. One of them vowed to take the case all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Peterson, 58, was only charged in Savio's death after Stacy Peterson vanished in 2007. She is presumed dead, though her body has never been found. Her husband is a suspect in her disappearance but has never been charged in the case.

Stacy Peterson's sister, in court to hear the guilty verdict Thursday, sounded optimistic that charges in her sister's case would soon follow.

"He'll be charged. It'll come," Cassandra Cales said.

The Savio family was as relieved and excited Thursday as Stacy Peterson's family was hopeful. As she stepped out of the crowded courtroom minutes after the verdict, Savio's sister, Susan Doman, threw herself into the arms of her husband.

"Finally, finally, finally," Mitch Doman, Savio's brother-in-law, said as he and his wife cried. Seconds later, he looked up at a reporter and said with a smile, "We finally got that murdering bastard!"

As Glasgow prepares for a Nov. 26 sentencing hearing for Peterson - during which he is certain to ask the judge to impose a sentence close to the maximum 60-year prison term - he strongly hinted that many of the things he was forbidden from saying in front of the jury about Stacy Peterson's 2007 disappearance will be part of his presentation.

Peterson's attorneys promised to appeal his conviction, partly because of the reliance on hearsay evidence. It not only included Savio's family members testifying that she feared Peterson would kill her and make it look like an accident. It also included testimony from Stacy Peterson's pastor and a divorce attorney about comments Stacy Peterson made that she believed her husband killed Savio.

"It's a dark day in America when you can convict somebody on hearsay evidence," said Joe Lopez, one of Peterson's attorneys.

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