Day 1 ends with no Peterson trial verdict

Sept. 5, 2012 at 9:35 PM
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JOLIET, Ill., Sept. 5 (UPI) -- Jurors in Joliet, Ill., trying to decide whether Drew Peterson murdered his third wife went home for the night Wednesday without reaching a verdict.

Will County Judge Edward Burmila let the seven-man, five-woman jury go at the end of their first day of deliberations after reminding them to avoid coverage of the case, WBBM-TV, Chicago, reported. The panel was given the case at 9:37 a.m. and called it a day about 6:15 p.m., the TV station said.

During the day, the jury requested the phone records of Drew Peterson and his fourth wife, Stacy Peterson from the weekend his third wife, Kathleen Savio, was killed. They also asked for transcripts of testimony from Savio divorce attorney and the pastor who counseled Stacy Peterson.

Before turning the case over to the jurors Burmila reminded them in his instructions Peterson, 58, a former Bolingbrook police sergeant, did not have to prove his innocence and they cannot read anything into his decision not to testify, the Chicago Tribune reported.

The jury heard three weeks of testimony and 4 1/2 hours of closing arguments.

Peterson is charged with killing Savio in 2004 as the couple were hashing out details of their divorce. The bathtub death initially was ruled an accident, but the investigation was reopened after Stacy Peterson disappeared in 2007. There has been no sign of her since, and Peterson contends she ran off with another man.

Defense attorney Joseph Lopez Tuesday told jurors in his closing Savio died in a "weird" household accident. He said prosecutors failed to prove otherwise.

The defense alleges Savio, 40, slipped and fell in her Bolingbrook home's bathtub.

Will County Assistant State's Attorney Chris Koch asked jurors in his summation to use their "common sense and everyday-life experience" in deciding how Savio died.

"It's not one side [of her body that showed injuries], it's four sides -- how can you get that in one fall?" Koch said. "You can't do it -- it's not possible."

State's Attorney Jim Glasgow said the case's circumstantial evidence added up to a powerful indictment against Peterson.

"It's solid, it's real and it proves beyond a reasonable doubt that Drew Peterson murdered Kathleen Savio in cold blood," Glasgow said.

Lopez said the state provided "garbage evidence" that jurors should ignore.

"If you can't show it's a homicide, who cares?" he said.

Peterson sat expressionless at the defense table, watching jurors, taking notes and sometimes whispering to his lawyers, the Chicago Tribune reported.

Glasgow has said Savio's death was a "homicide staged to look like an accident."

Prosecutors allege Peterson killed Savio because he was afraid their pending divorce settlement would ruin him financially. They have suggested he killed Stacy Peterson because she knew about Savio's death.

He has not been charged in Stacy Peterson's disappearance but is under investigation and has repeatedly denied involvement in either case.

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