If it were up to the judge overseeing Drew Peterson's murder trial, he would be found guilty--and then some.
According to a sealed ruling obtained by the Chicago Tribune, Judge Stephen White believes that Peterson likely murdered his third and fourth wives--Kathleen Savio and Stacy Peterson.
The murder trial of former Bolingbrook police sergeant Drew Peterson has been put on hold while prosecutors appeal White's ruling that only five of 13 pieces of hearsay evidence can be heard by the jury.
The Tribune reports:
The Tribune previously reported on parts of White's four-page ruling, in which he finds it more likely than not that Peterson killed his third wife, Kathleen Savio, and his fourth wife, Stacy Peterson. The ruling was made under a lesser legal standard than the standard of beyond a reasonable doubt that a jury would face.
Peterson pleaded not guilty to first-degree murder charges in Savio's death and denied involvement in the disappearance of Stacy Peterson. She has not been seen since October of 2007, and Drew Peterson has not been charged in her disappearance.
Hearsay evidence, or statements not based on a witness' direct knowledge, are allowed in trials under a new Illinois law if prosecutors can prove a defendant may have killed a witness to prevent him or her from testifying, the Associated Press reports. It has been dubbed by some as "Drew's law" due to its close ties to the Peterson case.
According to the Tribune, Judge White will allow the following pieces of hearsay evidence, among others:
Savio's statement to her sister Anna Doman that "Drew said he's going to kill me and I would not make it to the divorce settlement, I will never get his pension or my children."
Stacy Peterson's statement to her pastor, Neil Schori, that she saw Peterson return home late, dressed in black and carrying a bag of women's clothing, shortly before Savio's body was found.
Peterson's defense team has argued that the prosecution's appeal to allow more hearsay evidence should be dismissed--and others believe the appeal is a sign that prosecutors are in trouble. The Associated Press reports:
But the appeal likely signals that the prosecution's case could be in trouble, said Terry Sullivan, a Chicago attorney and former prosecutor who has followed the case.
"It signals to me that without the hearsay they're in trouble," Sullivan said. "Now it's pretty well an admission that shows they don't want to go to trial without that hearsay testimony. You can read whatever you want into it."
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