CHESTER — Drew Peterson’s murder-for-hire trial has again been delayed as the former Bolingbrook police officer seeks to enlist an expert witness to review taped conversations with an unnamed prison informant.
Peterson was scheduled for trial next month in southern Illinois on charges that he solicited another prison inmate to kill Will County State’s Attorney James Glasgow, who prosecuted the 2012 case in which the ex-Bolingbrook sergeant was sentenced to 38 years in prison for the 2004 bathtub drowning death of Kathleen Savio, his third wife.
On Tuesday, Randolph County Circuit Judge Richard Brown agreed to delay the trial until Nov. 13 to give both sides more time to prepare. State and local prosecutors didn’t oppose the request by Peterson’s court-appointed attorney.
“I don’t believe anybody thinks this case is going to be ready for trial (in August),” said Jeremy Walker, the Randolph County state’s attorney. The county is home to Menard Correctional Center, where Peterson is imprisoned.
Peterson’s attorneys want to hire an expert witness to review secretly recorded conversations between him and an informant whose identity has not been publicly disclosed. The judge will consider that request and other pretrial motions from both the defense and prosecutors on Sept. 1 and, if necessary, the following day.
Motions had been set to be heard Tuesday.
Peterson, 61, has pleaded not guilty to a charge of solicitation of murder for hire and one count of solicitation of murder. Both felonies carry maximum sentences of 30 years.
He attended the short hearing but only spoke briefly when the judge asked if he agreed with the delay after requesting a speedy trial upon being charged in February.
“In the interest of justice, yes your honor,” he said.
Brown had previously approved a request to keep the taped prison conversations under seal before trial.
Among the issues to be decided before trial is a request by prosecutors to allow cross-examination of Peterson, should he choose to testify.
The court also will consider a request from prosecutors who say they want to discuss a 2003 attempt by Peterson to pay someone $25,000 to “take care of” Savio. A third motion from prosecutors seeks to limit discussion at trial about the details of the confidential informant’s own criminal history.
Savio’s death was initially ruled an accident, but the case was reopened after the 2007 disappearance of Peterson’s fourth wife. Peterson remains a suspect in that case but has denied harming both women.
BY ALAN SCHER ZAGIER, Associated Press