* From November of 2009…
The House today voted 109-0 to put into law a bill that could affect a potential prosecution against former Bolingbrook Police Sgt. Drew Peterson in the cases of either one of his last two wives.
The bill, which is backed by the Will County state’s attorney’s office, would allow a judge to admit hearsay evidence into court for first-degree murder cases if the prosecution could prove that the defendant killed a witness to prevent testimony.
The House vote followed Senate approval a week before. Their votes meant lawmakers accepted changes proposed by Gov. Rod Blagojevich that allowed the law to become effective as soon as the House approved the measure.
* But by July of the next year, Peterson’s prosecutor was asking an appellate court to dump the new law…
Saddled with a botched police investigation, Will County State’s Attorney James Glasgow pushed for a state law that would allow prosecutors to use hearsay statements against Drew Peterson at trial.
Dubbed Drew’s Law by legal experts and legislators, Glasgow hailed the bill’s passage as a way of letting Peterson’s third and fourth wives speak from the grave.
But now in an ironic move to convict Peterson, Glasgow finds himself fighting the law he helped create.
On the eve of Peterson’s much-anticipated murder trial, Glasgow delayed the case Thursday by appealing a ruling on the admissibility of some hearsay evidence. He argues that the judge’s decision — made under the guidelines established by Drew’s Law — should have adhered instead to less-restrictive common law.
* The appellate court sided with the prosecutor…
But in winning his appeal, Glasgow had to ask the court to disregard the law he helped create in favor of the state’s common law, which doesn’t include the reliability requirement, a fact not lost on the appellate judges.
“This change in the State’s position is puzzling,” Judge William Holdridge wrote in the appellate court’s decision.
“If the legislature intended to facilitate the successful prosecution of criminal defendants who intentionally prevent witnesses from testifying (as the statute’s legislative history suggests), it is unclear why it passed a statute that imposed restrictions on prosecutors that are not found in the common law,” Holdridge wrote. “Regardless, after passing a more restrictive statute, one would expect the State either to enforce the statute as written or act to repeal the statute, not urge the courts to ignore it.”
And Holdridge wasn’t the only one to find Glasgow’s change in course puzzling.
“There’s irony, foremost,” said Harold J. Krent, the dean of IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law, who noted that Glasgow was “actually potentially undercutting the power of prosecutors” when he passed his new law.
“The common law’s power was broader,” Krent said.
* The appellate ruling was based on an Illinois Supreme Court opinion issued after “Drew’s Law” was passed by the General Assembly…
Glasgow’s spokesman, Charles B. Pelkie, pointed out that the new law was put together and passed before the state supreme court rejected an appeal by Naperville murderer Eric Hanson, who shot his mother and father in the head and bludgeoned to death his sister and brother-in-law.
Hanson appealed his conviction on the grounds that hearsay cannot be used as evidence under the common law. The state supreme court denied this, upholding Hanson’s conviction and giving Glasgow the grounds for his appeal of Judge White’s ruling.
* And that appellate court ruling led directly to Peterson’s conviction yesterday…
In the end, it was Stacy Peterson who helped convict Drew Peterson of murder.
Stacy Peterson, Drew Peterson’s fourth wife, is missing. Her family believes she’s dead and blames her husband.
But statements she made to two men before she disappeared were cited by a juror Thursday as being crucial in bringing down the brash, silver-haired former Bolingbrook cop.
It was the hearsay evidence against Peterson, the juror said, that convinced him and other jurors to convict Peterson of murder on Thursday in the 2004 death of his third wife, Kathleen Savio.
“Without hearsay evidence would I have found him not guilty? Yes. A lot of the jurors said that, too,” said Ron Supalo, a juror from Bolingbrook. “They were either on the fence or they thought he was innocent. And then with those two hearsay witnesses, bam.”
* A couple of examples of the hearsay evidence used against Peterson…
“Kathy told me that her husband … had told her that he could kill her and make her disappear.”
— Mary Parks testifying about what Savio said Drew Peterson told her.
“She wanted to know if the fact that he killed Kathy (Savio) could be used against him.”
— Divorce attorney Harry Smith testifying about a conversation with Stacy Peterson days before she disappeared in 2007. She told him she was convinced Drew Peterson killed Savio three years earlier.