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New Judge Appointed In Drew Peterson Case

DON BABWIN   05/21/09 10:11 PM ET   AP

Peterson

JOLIET, Ill. — Prosecutors in the murder case against Drew Peterson got their wish Thursday when a new judge was appointed to preside over his trial.

Peterson's attorney initially indicated he would challenge the appointment of a new judge, but withdrew the request, explaining later that the defense team decided not to risk getting a judge they liked less.

"Rather than roll the dice we stayed with this judge," Joel Brodsky said of Judge Carla J. Alessio-Policandriotes. "She is very fair-minded, has a very good judicial mind, a very good judicial temperament and a great reputation for fair-handedness."

The parties were expected in court again Friday to argue a motion to reduce Peterson's $20 million bond.

Earlier this week, Will County State's Attorney James Glasgow asked for the removal of Judge Richard Schoenstedt on the grounds of bias against the state. Schoenstedt had dismissed felony gun charges against the former Bolingbrook police sergeant late last year.

At Thursday's hearing, Peterson appeared subdued, even tired _ a contrast to the smiling, wisecracking demeanor he displayed before and even right after his arrest on May 7.

He is charged with first-degree murder in the 2004 death of his third wife, Kathleen Savio, who was found drowned in a bathtub, a gash to the back of her head. He also is a suspect in the 2007 disappearance of his fourth wife, Stacy.

Peterson, who remains in jail, has long maintained his innocence in Savio's death and Stacy Peterson's disappearance.

Chances are good Alessio-Policandriotes will agree to reduce Peterson's bond, giving him a better chance of getting out of jail pending trial, defense attorneys said.

"Drew hasn't been a danger to the community since this investigation began," said Andrew Abood, another of Peterson's lawyers. "I suspect that if he gets out on bond that will continue to be the status quo."

Brodsky has said he plans to ask the judge to reduce Peterson's bond to under $500,000. He has argued that since police named Peterson a suspect in Stacy Peterson's disappearance in late 2007, he has traveled to such places as Mexico, California and Florida without trying to flee.

Relatives of Savio and Stacy Peterson oppose any reduction in bond.

"We're dealing with someone who's a potential murderer," said Pam Bosco, a spokeswoman for Stacy Peterson's family. "I think that would be something that the judge would recognize and keep him in jail for everyone's protection."

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Filed by Ben Goldberger  |