JOLIET, Ill. — A judge on Thursday denied Drew Peterson a new murder trial in the death of the former suburban Chicago police officer’s third wife.After the ruling, Judge Edward Burmila moved on to Peterson’s sentencing hearing. The 59-year-old faces up to 60 years in prison for the2004 death of Kathleen Savio.
Peterson’s current legal team had argued for a new trial on grounds his former lead attorney, Joel Bodsky, botched the case.
Jurors convicted Peterson in September in the death of Savio, whose body was found in a dry bathtub with a gash on her head. Peterson is also a suspect in the 2007 disappearance of his fourth wife, Stacy Peterson, but hasn’t been charged in that case.
Peterson’s current legal team had argued that Brodsky failed to adequately defend the former Bolingbrook police sergeant. Brodsky stepped down from the defense team in November as the lawyerly strife worsened.
Among the accusations from Steve Greenberg, who was on the trial team and still represents Peterson, is that Brodsky forced Peterson to stage a pretrial media blitz that harmed the ex-officer’s cause.
Greenberg maintained that Brodsky made a decision on his own to call divorce lawyer Harry Smith as witness, a move that badly backfired on the defense. Brodsky has insisted the entire legal team agreed on trial strategy.
Smith told jurors that Stacy Peterson asked him just before she vanished about whether she could squeeze her husband for more money if she threatened to tell police he murder Savio three years earlier.
Brodsky wanted Smith to blunt Stacy Peterson’s credibility. Instead, he succeeded in stressing she sincerely thought her husband killed Savio. Several jurors said his testimony persuaded them to convict Peterson.
By Douglas Holtz-Eakin
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