The trial of former Bolingbrook police sergeant Drew Peterson starts next week, but pretrial discussions about the way Kathleen Savio's autopsy was handled have already been incredibly bizarre.
Last week, Judge Stephen White expressed anger after he found out that Steph Watts, a freelance producer for Fox News' "On the Record" with Greta Van Susteren, filmed Savio's autopsy. Today, the Chicago Tribune reports that the phone number for "Girls Gone Wild" producer Joe Francis was found in notes related to the autopsy.
From the Tribune:
Watts said he had Francis' number in his notes because he was working on a story about the entrepreneur's legal troubles at the time. Watts said he has since become friends with Francis, who made millions selling videotapes of college-age girls baring their breasts while on spring break.
"I'm almost surprised Steph Watts didn't do some of the incisions in the autopsy," defense attorney Joel Brodsky said. "They weren't just covering the news; this shows they were making the news."
Brodsky said in court that the defense has received three pages of Watts' notes from the autopsy. Sources later told the Tribune that on a page noting the weight of Savio's liver, Watts had written down three telephone numbers, including Francis' personal cell phone number.
Savio, Peterson's third wife and the woman whose murder he is accused of, died in 2004; her body was exhumed and in 2007 when authorities began to suspect foul play.
Though the Will County Coroner performed an autopsy and found that Savio was likely beaten and drowned, high-profile pathologist Dr. Michael Baden was also asked to inspect Savio's remains. Fox News paid for Baden's services since the Savio family could not afford him, the Tribune reports.
Judge White has already threatened to ban Baden's autopsy results if Watts' footage is not found.
"It seems like Fox News Channel has a lot more information about this autopsy than either the defense or the prosecution," Peterson attorney Joel Brodsky told the Joliet Herald News. "I'm anxious to get it."
The latest discovery was brought up by the defense as they attempt to ban Baden from serving as a prosecution witness. Baden has worked on the O.J. Simpson and Phil Spector murder trials, and is the host of the HBO series "Autopsy."
"The integrity of the autopsy is so flawed, the question is whether this is a serious investigation or a reality show," Peterson's attorney Steven Greenberg said.
Meanwhile, the search for the body of Stacy Peterson--Drew Peterson's missing fourth wife--continued this week.