CHESTER, Ill. — A southern Illinois judge has granted Drew Peterson’s request to delay his trial on charges that the former suburban Chicago police sergeant plotted to kill the prosecutor who helped convict him in the death of Kathleen Savio, his third wife.
The Randolph County trial had been scheduled to begin July 6. But Peterson’s lawyer said Friday in a brief hearing that the 61-year-old ex-Bolingbrook officer needs more time to prepare.
“We’re just not going to be ready by then,” said attorney Lucas Liefer.
Prosecutors didn’t oppose the request. The trial is now set to start Aug. 28.
Peterson has pleaded not guilty to charges that he solicited another prison inmate, whose identity has not been disclosed, to kill Will County State’s Attorney James Glasgow. Peterson in 2012 was sentenced to 38 years in prison for the death of his ex-wife Kathleen Savio in 2008.
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Peterson, 61, is serving a 38-year sentence at the Menard Correctional Center in Chester. He’s also suspected in the 2007 disappearance of his fourth wife, Stacy Peterson. The disappearance of Stacy Peterson eventually prompted the investigation into Savio’s death. No criminal charges have been filed in connection with Stacy Peterson’s disappearance, but Peterson remains the sole suspect.
The sentence Peterson received in 2012 left him on track to be released in 2047, when he would turn 93. But court records show he is eligible for as many as 60 additional years in prison — because of his earlier murder conviction —if prosecutors are successful in the murder-for-hire case.
Savio was found in a bathtub and was believed to have drowned. Her death was initially ruled an accident, but the case was re-opened after the Stacy Peterson disappeared.
Peterson’s lawyers told a state appeals court Thursday that his murder conviction should be overturned because of improper use of hearsay evidence and mistakes by his former attorney.
The Third District Court of Appeals judicial panel did not immediately issue a ruling after Thursday’s hearing.
Peterson is scheduled to return to court in a July 7 hearing on three prosecutorial motions that were initially supposed to be discussed Friday.
Prosecutors have asked the court to allow prosecutors to cross-examine Peterson about his first-degree murder conviction should he choose to testify. And they want permission to discuss a 2003 attempt by Peterson to pay someone $25,000 to “take care of” Savio. The third seeks to limit discussion at trial about the details of the confidential informant’s own first-degree murder conviction.
Circuit Judge Richard Brown had previously approved a request by prosecutors to keep taped prison conversations between Peterson and an unidentified informant under seal before the trial to avoid influencing potential jurors.
The judge earlier had banned prosecutors and Peterson’s defense lawyer from publicly revealing evidence involving the use of eavesdropping devices in order to protect an unidentified informant. Prosectors had filed a notice with the court that said an eavesdropping device was used to overhear and record various conversations of Peterson’s between October and December 2014, when he was imprisoned at Menard Correctional Center in Randolph County.
Contributing: Jon Seidel