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Illinois Supreme Court to hear Drew Peterson appeal

Drew Peterson, once again, is unhappy with his lawyer. | AP file photo

The Illinois Supreme Court on Wednesday agreed to hear an appeal from Drew Peterson, who was convicted in 2012 of killing his third wife.

It’s a glimmer of hope for Peterson, whose murder conviction was upheld by the Illinois Appellate Court last fall. The three-judge panel unanimously ruled that the prosecution’s entirely circumstantial case was strong enough to convict Peterson of the murder of his third wife, Kathleen Savio. The ruling also upheld Peterson’s 38-year sentence for first-degree murder.

But Peterson’s attorney Steve Greenberg vowed to appeal the case to the Illinois Supreme Court. And on Wednesday, the court agreed to hear Peterson’s appeal.

“The good thing is that they didn’t have to hear it. It’s discretionary,” Greenberg said, adding there are important issues that he believes were missed in the appellate court decision.

“The appellate court sort of avoided them. They avoided important issues. They didn’t consider the issues, the hearsay issue,” Greenberg said. “He is entitled to a fair trial, and he didn’t get it.”

The state’s high court may hear arguments as soon as the fall, Greenberg said.

After the verdict, jurors told the Sun-Times it was a mix of medical evidence and hearsay evidence that led to Peterson’s conviction.

Damaging claims offered by Stacy Peterson, his missing fourth wife, were included in the hearsay evidence.

That included testimony from a Protestant minister, who testified Stacy Peterson told him she had been ordered by her husband to lie to police when questioned about Savio’s death. Stacy Peterson also confided that she woke up and found Drew Peterson missing on the night Savio was killed, then saw him return home dressed in black and carrying a bag of women’s clothing that he tossed in the washer.

The most crucial hearsay evidence came from divorce attorney Harry Smith. He told the court that Stacy Peterson said she knew how her husband killed Savio.

A state law passed in 2008 helped prosecutors go after Peterson for the 2004 drowning death of Savio.

The law — dubbed “Drew’s Law” by legislators — allows incriminating hearsay statements from murder victims to be admitted as evidence if prosecutors can show they were slain to keep them from testifying against their attackers.

Peterson is also awaiting trial on a charge he solicited an inmate to kill Will County State’s Attorney James Glasgow, who prosecuted Savio’s murder case.