Breaking News Bar

Peterson defense focuses on informant inconsistencies

By Pete Spitler
Staff Writer
Posted on 5/26/2016, 10:58 PM

EDITOR"S NOTE: The County Journal contributed to this report

During Wednesday"s media briefing, Randolph County State"s Attorney Jeremy Walker stated that the prosecution"s star witness, Federal Bureau of Prisons inmate-turned-informant Antonio Smith, may "have some grenades thrown at him" during cross-examination.

Thursday, it was more of a mortar attack by defense attorney Lucas Liefer.

"I know more about you than almost anyone in this courtroom," Liefer said to Smith, who is currently serving a 40-year sentence for his role in the attempted murder of a Sesser woman in a 2010 Mulkeytown home invasion, burglary and other crimes.

Smith and co-defendant Jacob Bohannon were charged for the throat slashing of Susan Zettler when she let the pair into her home after they asked her to use her telephone.

Zettler survived the attack. Smith was 19 years old at the time.

During cross-examination, Smith - in "kites" sent to former cellmate and friend Adrian Gabriel - discussed double-crossing the FBI by tipping off Peterson and his attorney, Steve Greenberg, about the investigation and how they would be "(expletive) famous" if Smith were called to testify.

"At what point do you consider yourself to be famous?" Liefer asked. "Right now? Do you consider yourself to be famous?"

Focusing on inconsistencies in letters and statements by Smith, Liefer asked the 25-year-old inmate - nicknamed "Beast" for his size - for the exact date and time Peterson said to murder Glasgow.

Smith stated that he couldn"t recall. He also admitted that he never actually discussed the transaction of money between himself and Peterson.

"If the recordings show something different than what you said, then you"re lying, right?" Liefer asked.

Liefer brought up an instance in which Smith called his friend, Sandra, on September 8, 2014. During the conversation, he told her he"d be out by June of 2016.

He also told her he"d get her record expunged, referring to Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan as a derogatory term for women.

About a month earlier, Smith and Gabriel were transferred out of protective custody at Pontiac Correctional Center because of safety concerns the two had.

"We were cooperating with something else and didn"t feel safe in PC," Smith said, explaining that the pair were "snitching" on correctional officers and feared retaliation.

But even back in the prison"s general population, Smith didn"t feel safe and wanted a transfer to Stateville.

"It"s not cool to be a snitch," he said.

In an August 20, 2014 recorded interview with investigators with the Will County State"s Attorney"s Office, Smith said he"d "do anything to get this (expletive) conviction" - referring to Peterson - as long as investigators kept him safe.

"If you keep (Gabriel) with me, I"ll feel comfortable wearing that wire and I"ll get you anything you need," Smith said. "I"ll get you this conviction. I"ll drive to the courthouse myself if I have to."

In a kite to Gabriel, he said about the investigators, "Them (expletive) are coming to see me."

Smith testified that he lied to Gabriel that the state was going to give them $110,000 for their cooperation.

"I would get $30,000 and the rest is for you and your mom," Smith said he told Gabriel.

"You said earlier that you trusted Gabriel with your life," Liefer said. "You were lying to someone you would trust with your life?"

"Yes," Smith said.

In another kite to Gabriel, he said the prosecutors and investigators had lied to him somehow and he was going to put them on blast for it.

"I"m not going if they send me (to Menard) without you," Smith wrote. "They have to admit they lied, face to face."

Gabriel also read a letter about his "best-case scenario" if Peterson was found guilty. That included either a commuted or reduced sentence.

"Will County could hang Drew out to dry and put him away for good. Randolph County could get a big conviction. The attorney general would look good and Franklin County could keep their conviction. I get another shot at life I can"t afford to (expletive) up," Smith said, reading from a letter he wrote to an FBI agent.

Prior to the lunch break, Liefer argued that nowhere in the letters did Peterson write Glasgow"s name or the words "kill" or "murder."

After lunch, the prosecution called FBI Special Agent Brian Clark to testify. Assistant Attorney General Steve Nate asked him "Can someone ask someone to commit murder without using the word "murder?""

"Yes," Clark said.

Randolph County State"s Attorney Jeremy Walker then got involved by questioning former Correctional Officer Daniel Dunn, as well as Menard Correctional Center Warden Kim Butler.

Later, Internal Affairs Investigator Kevin Reichert was called to the witness stand and he testified that Smith was given a state loan TV for his cooperation in the case.

Prior to recessing for the day, the court heard excerpts from Peterson"s 40-minute tirade at his 2013 sentencing for the Will County conviction.

"I did not kill Kathleen!" Peterson said.

Peterson"s now-infamous statement to Glasgow, "Remember my face. Never forget what you"ve done here," was also played for the jurors over the defense"s objections.

Peterson, 62, faces up to 60 years in prison - added on to his current 38-year sentence for killing third wife Kathleen Savio - if he is found guilty of solicitation of murder and solicitation of murder for hire.

The prosecution is expected to rest its case Friday morning. The defense is anticipated to call two Illinois Department of Corrections inmates to testify.

There was intended to be a third inmate, Shelly McGree, but McGree decided it wasn"t "in his best interest" to testify, so he was thrown out as a witness.

Proceedings resume at 8:45 a.m.