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Hearsay Holdup in Peterson Murder Trial?

All the hearsay evidence prosecutors managed to get in through the appellate court might be back out.

The hearsay evidence the appellate court allowed against accused wife-killer Drew Peterson may not make it into his murder trial after all.

Will County Judge Edward Burmila balked at crossing retired Judge Stephen White, who presided over the Peterson case before hanging up his robe and gavel in 2010.

While he was on in the Peterson case, White decided eight of 14 hearsay statements prosecutors want to use against Peterson lacked reliability.

Prosecutors appealed White's ruling and won. The appeal was based on judging the hearsay statements under law that does not take reliability into consideration. White had retired in the meantime and Burmila inherited the case, and he did not seem eager to let in what White wanted kept out.

"There's no way I can simply ignore findings made by Judge White," Burmila said Wednesday following hours of secret, closed door hearings.

But while Burmia said he can't ignore White, he didn't say he's necessarily abiding by his predecessor's ruling either. Burmila invited prosecutors and defense attorneys to send him case law supporting their claims by Saturday.

Assistant State's Attorney Colleen Griffin pushed for Burmila to make a decision before jury selection starts Monday morning, presumably so prosecutors can file an appeal if the judge doesn't go their way. But Burmila snapped back at Griffin that she wasn't about to tell him what to do.

"You don't tell me when I'm going to rule," Burmila barked at Griffin.

"You're not going to tell me now that I have to rule at your pace," he said.

Prosecutors added two more hearsay statements they want to use against Peterson after their triumph in the appellate court in April. Of these 16, Burmila has given the green light to seven.

He may rule—when he feels like ruling—that the other nine are allowed in as well. He can also decide to keep them out. And Burmila also has the option to rule on each as they are testified to at trial.

Defense attorney Steve Greenberg said that third scenario would be "like every other criminal case," where after witnesses testify they "get the crap cross-examined out of them and the jury's going to decide if they're telling the truth."

Peterson has been jailed since May 2009 on charges he murdered his third wife, Kathleen Savio, who was found drowned in a dry bathtub in March 2004. The state police insisted Savio died accidentally, but abruptly decided she was the victim of a homicide when Peterson's next wife, Stacy Peterson, vanished in October 2007.

Stacy Peterson remains missing. The but have yet to charge him with harming her.

The 16 hearsay statements were supposedly spoken by either Stacy or Savio and will be relayed through witnesses claiming to have heard them. Judge White already ruled that it was more likely than not that Drew Peterson killed both women to keep them from testifying against him.

Following Wednesday's day-long session, James Glasgow was asked repeatedly if he would attempt to appeal if Burmila happens to exlude nine of the 16 hearsay statements.

"I'm not going to try to guess what the judge is going to do or not going to do," Glasgow said, although he conceded that he expects Burmila to make a decision before the start of jury selection. So did Peterson's lawyers.

"We're ready to go," said defense attorney Joseph "Shark" Lopez. "Monday morning."

Watchful Eye July 24, 2012 at 08:25 PM
The hearsay that is being allowed into this trial is being allowed under existing hearsay law; not the recently passed Illinois hearsay law. It's called Rule 803. Exceptions to the Rule Against Hearsay — Regardless of Whether the Declarant Is Available as a Witness. You people that keep whining about this hearsay make me cringe. You are so misinformed and uninformed. Look it up.
Watchful Eye July 24, 2012 at 09:29 PM
I don't disagree with someone being against using hearsay. But, for Pete's Sake, get the facts straight!!!! The Appellate Court ruled that the hearsay the SA wants to use is admissible under Rule 803, Exceptions to Hearsay.... I'm so sick of you whiners that don't have enough sense to post comments that are researched and thought out. You sound like Drew's lawyer -- there is no evidence in this case, he says. Yeah, who gives a rat's butt what he says? He says they can't put Drew in Kathleen's house (he says this over and over and over) during the time of her death. Well, where can they put him then? That's a valid question. Can they put him in HIS house at all times during the time of her death? Works both ways. Just sayin....
Yvette Walker August 04, 2012 at 06:01 AM
I take baths all the time & forget my towels & I take a lot of baths. I take my clothes off in my closet they are either hung up or placed in my hamper. I don't always put my hair up & I have long hair. I dont take off my jewelry all the time. I believe Drew did it but could not send a man to jail without a “smoking gun” too much hearsay & speculation. The towel to me is a “non-mf-factor" anyone could have put it there, did anyone see Drew put it there? NO! Come on people we cant convict based on "just"hearsay from 8 years with no physical evidence maybe they need to open up all the STATE of ILL cases called accidents maybe there are people in jail that shouldn't be, maybe there were murders that were only accidents, just like they call this an accident & turns out it was a murder what happen to our justice system I have no faith in the system anyone can say anything & send a person to jail. HATE The MEDIA it is clear they have convicted the man! I believe he did it but the state of ILL messed up now 8 years later they are trying to fix it! I am just amazed at what people say they remember & what they don’t. I just don’t trust memory from 8 years ago. I couldn’t tell you what I ate or where I was 8 years ago. If people were honest they would see that this case should have been tried in 04 but it wasn’t & they are only there because of Stacey& they have no clue where she is! Sorry for the families losses but I think the people deserve more evidence then words!
Yvette Walker August 04, 2012 at 06:04 AM
They should be able to put a person at the crime scene (in the house) at the time of death. You shouldn ot be able to send a person to jail for life just based on hear say! Sorry I just didn't think our justice system worked that way. And we are talking about hearsay from 8 years ago. Real Talk##
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