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Peterson silent as defense rests its case

Aug. 30, 2012 at 5:18 PM   |   Comments

JOLIET, Ill., Aug. 30 (UPI) -- Prosecutors ended their rebuttal case Thursday in the trial of former suburban Chicago police Sgt. Drew Peterson, accused of killing his third wife.

Closing arguments in the Joliet, Ill., trial were expected Tuesday.

The nearly monthlong trial will concluded without jurors hearing from Peterson himself, who told Judge Edward Burmilia, "I will not testify," prior to his lawyers formally standing down in the trial over charges Peterson killed his Kathleen Savio in 2004, the Chicago Tribune reported.

Peterson will not, then, rebut potentially damning testimony inflicted by his own defense team Wednesday when they called a divorce lawyer for Peterson's fourth wife, Stacy Petetrson, to testify, the report said.

Divorce lawyer Harry Smith, who was contacted by Stacy Peterson shortly before she disappeared, said she'd asked him if she could get more in a divorce by telling police she knew how Peterson had killed Savio.

"She wanted to know if the fact that he killed Kathy [Savio] could be used against him," Smith testified. "She didn't use the word leverage, but certainly that was the intimation."

Stacy Peterson, the defendant's fourth wife, disappeared in October 2007 days after her query to Smith. The investigation into Savio's 2004 death, which originally was ruled an accident, was reopened after Stacy Peterson vanished.

Peterson's attorneys contend Savio's death was, in fact, an accident -- that Savio slipped getting out of the tub, hit her head and drowned. They defended calling Smith to the stand, arguing his testimony discredits earlier statements by Peterson's priest, who said Stacy Peterson tearfully told him Drew ordered her to lie about Savio's death to investigators.

Drew Peterson's lawyers said Smith's testimony shows Stacy Peterson was willing to lie to get more money in a divorce settlement, the Tribune said.

In its rebuttal case, the prosecution recalled a pathologist who testified about bruises on Savio's diaphragm that would not have been caused by a fall, the Tribune said.

© 2012 United Press International, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI's prior written consent.
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