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‘Anger, hatred, revenge’: Peterson murder-for-hire trial starts

Drew Peterson is in prison for killing Kathleen Savio. Now he's accused of trying to get someone to kill Will County State's Attorney James Glasgow. | File photos

CHESTER, Ill. — Locked up for what could be the rest of his life at a downstate prison on the banks of the Mississippi River, ex-Bolingbrook Police Sgt. Drew Peterson found an unlikely friend.

A Satan’s Disciple known as “Beast.”

His real name is Antonio Smith. He’s serving 40 years in prison for crimes that include attempted murder, and he once promised to protect Peterson. But on Monday, he threatened to end any hope Peterson has for freedom, playing star witness as prosecutors put Peterson on trial for trying to have Will County State’s Attorney James Glasgow killed.

Not only did Smith testify that Peterson offered $10,000 for Glasgow’s murder, Smith dropped another bombshell from the witness stand when he told jurors that Peterson “admitted to me that he killed Stacy Peterson.”

A Glasgow spokesman declined to comment on the testimony.

It all played out in the Randolph County courthouse, 300 miles south of Peterson’s west suburban hometown and a stone’s throw from the Missouri border. That’s where Peterson has been locked up for nearly three years, and that’s where prosecutors are laying out a case they say is all about anger, hatred and revenge.

And it led to Peterson and Glasgow facing each other in a courtroom Monday for the first time since Peterson told Glasgow in February 2013 to “never forget my face; never forget what you have done here.”

“This man hates James Glasgow,” Randolph County State’s Attorney Jeremy Walker said of Peterson. “This man has an animosity toward James Glasgow that just sat there. And stewed and stewed. And grew and grew. To the point where he had a man named ‘Beast’ — and he asked ‘Beast’ to kill James Glasgow.”

But “Beast” also painted himself on the witness stand as a manipulative and budding full-time informant who would lie in notes to cellmates and plot to blow-up undercover operations if he didn’t get what he wanted. Even though Smith wore a wire on Peterson, defense attorney Lucas Liefer said the recordings “don’t prove anything.”

They are difficult to understand and full of jailhouse jargon, Liefer said, adding that Peterson never explicitly told Smith on the recordings to kill Glasgow. The recordings could be played in court as soon as Tuesday.

“Look around you,” Liefer told jurors as he gestured to a full courtroom gallery in the downstate city of Chester. “Why hasn’t Drew Peterson slipped into the past never to be heard from again? Because they won’t let him.”

Liefer has accused prosecutors of trying to re-live Peterson’s 2012 murder trial. And not only did prosecutors walk jurors through the long and winding saga that led Peterson to a cell in Randolph County’s Menard Correctional Center, they called Glasgow as their first witness.

Glasgow personally prosecuted the trial that landed Peterson a 38-year prison term for the murder of his third wife, Kathleen Savio. Peterson’s fourth wife, Stacy Peterson, vanished in 2007, and Glasgow promised in 2012 to “aggressively review” that case.

Peterson, who now faces as many as 60 additional years in prison if convicted in the murder-for-hire plot, wore black pants and a white, short-sleeved shirt to court Monday. He rested his head on his left hand and tapped his right hand on the defense table as he watched Glasgow testify.

Walker said Peterson wanted Glasgow killed in downtown Joliet, as Glasgow walked to or from his office. Peterson allegedly believed he’d be more likely to win his appeal with Glasgow dead and not manipulating things “under the table.” Glasgow said he took the plot seriously.

“I know that Mr. Peterson previously committed murder, and so, when the threat is made against me, it’s real,” Glasgow testified.

Smith, 25, testified that Peterson first approached him looking for a favor in October 2013. When Smith asked what the favor was, Smith said Peterson told him, “he needed me to kill James Glasgow, or have someone kill James Glasgow.”

“Beast” led Peterson to think he was seriously trying to make the murder-for-hire plot happen. But he was really trying to decide what to do with Peterson’s request, even reaching out to various law enforcement authorities about it. He also stayed in touch with Peterson as he was transferred to the Pontiac and Stateville prisons.

Smith returned to Menard in October 2014. He testified that he later questioned Peterson at meal-time, leaning in with a whisper to ask if he still wanted Glasgow killed.

“I asked him if he still wanted it done, still wanted Glasgow killed,” Smith testified. “And he said ‘yes.’ ”

Smith wasn’t wearing a wire at the time of that alleged conversation. But by then, he had caught the attention of the FBI. He got the feds’ attention after he sent multiple letters to Glasgow, promising Glasgow information that was “worth your time.”

“Beast” told Glasgow he had built up a rapport with Peterson.

And he told the prosecutor that Peterson “trusted me more than anyone in life.”