Drew Peterson doesn’t want jurors to hear about Stacy’s disappearance

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Joseph Lopez, one of Drew Peterson’s lawyers, stands outside the Will County Courthouse Friday, May 4, 2012, at 14 W. Jefferson St. in Joliet. | Matthew Grotto~Sun-Times Media

The disappearance of Drew Peterson’s fourth wife will loom large if he goes to trial this year for the death of his third, but his lawyers don’t want jurors to hear anything about it.

Peterson’s legal team is asking Will County Judge Edward Burmila to bar the mention of Stacy Peterson’s disappearance “or possible death” during his trial for the murder of Kathleen Savio, which could start in a few months.

They also asked Burmila not to let prosecutors convict Peterson for Savio’s death “upon innuendo.”

They made their requests in a batch of pretrial motions filed as the former Bolingbrook police sergeant returned to the Will County courthouse for the first time in 1Å“ years. The motions, currently sealed, underscore the argument lawyers made to reporters when the hearing ended.

“They have no physical evidence saying Drew Peterson was there,” defense attorney Steven Greenberg said of the prosecution. “They have no witness who can put Drew Peterson there. They can’t even get anything consistent about whether it was an accident or not. So they have no evidence. So all they say is, ‘Hey, they were getting divorced, she’s dead, he must have done it.’ ”

And Peterson defense lawyer Joel Brodsky calls Stacy Peterson’s October 2007 disappearance “irrelevant.”

He doesn’t think prosecutors will object to leaving it out of the Savio trial, even though it was her disappearance that prompted investigators to go back and look at Savio’s death. The incident was originally ruled an accident after Savio was found dead in a dry bathtub.

Savio’s body was exhumed after Stacy Peterson disappeared, and her death was ruled a homicide after an autopsy.

Leaving out Stacy Peterson’s disappearance could get problematic in the courtroom because she purportedly made some of the disputed hearsay statements allowed into the trial last month by an Illinois appellate court. And jurors might notice when Stacy Peterson doesn’t appear in the courtroom to testify for herself.

Peterson’s defense team has said it’s not done fighting the hearsay statements, though.

Chuck Pelkie, a spokesman for Will County State’s Attorney Jim Glasgow, said motions from the Peterson defense team are under review and will be addressed “at the appropriate time.” Glasgow didn’t get into the facts of the case when he spoke to reporters Friday, but he didn’t completely ignore claims from the Peterson team that he has no evidence.

“The defense lawyers have said how many things to you?” Glasgow said. “And how many things that they have said to you have been right? Count ’em. We’re ready for trial.”

Peterson’s lawyers also are challenging evidentiary hearing testimony from attorney Harry Smith, arguing that he violated attorney-client privilege when he testified about conversations he had with Savio and Stacy Peterson. More motions could be filed before Peterson returns to Burmila’s courtroom May 17.

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