Judge Will Hear Drew Peterson's Request to Have Conviction Vacated

Peterson goes to court Jan. 21
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 3, 2022 12:35 AM CST
Judge Will Hear Drew Peterson's Request to Have Conviction Vacated
In this May 8, 2009, file photo, former Bolingbrook, Ill., police Sgt. Drew Peterson leaves the Will County Courthouse in Joliet, Ill., after his arraignment on charges of first-degree murder in the 2004 death of his former wife Kathleen Savio.   (AP Photo/M. Spencer Green, File)

(Newser) – Drew Peterson wants his murder conviction vacated. The former Chicago-area police sergeant, who was convicted of killing his third wife and is a suspect in the disappearance and presumed death of his fourth wife, filed a six-page handwritten motion in October asking a judge to vacate his murder conviction in Kathleen Savio's 2004 death. A Will County, Illinois, judge will hear the motion Jan. 21, the Chicago Tribune reports. The judge said he found a "gist of a constitutional" claim in the motion, the AP reports. Peterson claims his lead attorney, Joel Brodsky, was not effective counsel, and the other lawyers on his team were threatened with being removed from the case if they went against Brodsky.

Peterson also says Brodsky did not allow him to testify in his own defense, which he desired to do, but that Brodsky did push him to give TV interviews proclaiming his innocence, and the ensuing spotlight ensured he could not get a fair trial. He also claims the testimony of two of the state's witnesses, a pastor and an attorney, should not have been allowed as the information Stacy Peterson (his fourth wife) told them about Savio's death should have been privileged information due to their positions. Last but not least, he alleges prosecutorial misconduct and witness intimidation. The judge assigned Peterson, who filed the motion on his own, a public defender and two investigators from the public defender's office.

State attorneys, in a response to Peterson's motion, point out that higher courts have upheld Peterson's conviction—and that some of these issues have already been raised in those appeals. The other issues, they say, were not raised on direct appeal and thus should not be allowed to be raised now. Prosecutors also pushed back on Peterson's claim that he wanted to testify, calling out court transcripts in which he says he does not. Peterson is serving 38 years in Savio's murder, plus 40 years on a 2016 conviction of trying to hire someone to kill a Will County state's attorney. As for Brodsky, whose law license was suspended in 2019, he agrees with state's attorneys: "There's nothing here," he says of Peterson's claim. (Read more Drew Peterson stories.)

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