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Peterson appeal heads to state Supreme Court

By Pete Spitler
Staff Writer
Posted on 4/1/2016, 7:03 PM

Two days after the Illinois Supreme Court agreed to hear an appeal of his 2012 murder conviction, Drew Peterson was back in Randolph County Court on Friday.

Peterson is awaiting a late May trial in the county on murder-for-hire charges that alledge he solicited a fellow inmate to find someone to kill Will County State"s Attorney James Glasgow, who prosecuted Peterson"s 2012 case.

But the state Supreme Court is anticipated to hear oral arguments this fall on overturning Peterson"s original conviction for the murder of his third wife, Kathleen Savio.

According to media reports, Peterson alledges he was denied a fair trial due, in part, to the admission of so-called hearsay statements as evidence during trial proceedings in Will County.

During media availability after Friday"s case management conference, the attorneys for the murder-for-hire case were asked if the Supreme Court"s decision has any bearing on the Randolph County case.

"Not directly," said defense attorney Lucas Liefer. "This is a separate case and facts."

"Our position has been the same since Day 1," said Randolph County State"s Attorney Jeremy Walker in a separate interview. "Behind the scenes, can there be some things behind it? I can"t discuss those things until the trial is over."

During Friday"s brief case management conference, counsel for both the prosecution and defense agreed to return on April 22 at 9 a.m. to discuss any unresolved motions in the case.

Randolph County State"s Attorney Jeremy Walker announced the prosecution will tender the official discovery to the defense, including the "master file" on a disc, today.

"We are simply memorializing the documents," Walker said.

Circuit Court Judge Richard A. Brown told the attorneys that he was scheduled for a civil jury trial starting on April 18 that may conflict with the motions hearing.

"Obviously, if I"m in that trial, I can"t hear the motions in this case," Brown said. "But, anything can happen."

Previously, Walker told the court he was seeking clarification on a motion the court had not yet ruled on.

That motion is a people"s motion to admit relevant evidence in the case, which was filed on April 24, 2015. Brown filed his response on Oct. 23.

"While the Court finds that much of the evidence which the state desires may be relevant to prove motive, the Court will not rule on the admissibility of the evidence until it is offered at trial," Brown said in his ruling. "The prejudicial effect of this evidence to defendant must be determined in light of other evidence which has been introduced at trial by state. It is premature for the Court to rule at this time."

It was one of four court orders filed in October. The court denied a motion by the defense to suppress evidence related to the use of an eavesdropping device and denied a motion by the State to admit evidence that Peterson attempted to hire an individual to kill Savio.

In the latter ruling, Brown said the Savio murder - which Peterson is serving a 38-year sentence at Menard Correctional Center in Chester for - "does not tend to prove intent or motive to have James Glasgow killed."

Looking toward the April 22 hearing, both sides appear to be getting things in order for the May trial, which will begin with jury selection on May 20.

"If there"s any motions they are going to file or any motions I"m going to file, that would be heard on that day," Liefer said, referring to the April 22 hearing.

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