Pastor: Stacy Peterson Lied for Drew

Says Stacy covered for her husband the night Savio died

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    NEWSLETTERS

    TK
    AP
    Drew's home will not be auctioned.

    Stacy Peterson's pastor, Neil Schori, told the court Friday that Drew Peterson coached his missing fourth wife on what to say about if cops ever asked questions about the disappearance of his third wife, Kathleen Savio.

    Police did ask questions, and Stacy told them that she was with Drew Peterson the entire night of her disappearance.

    "It was a lie," Schori said during the evidentiary "hearsay" hearing in Joliet.  "He told her what to say to police."

    Schori told a packed court room that Stacy Peterson actually awoke that night to find her husband gone. She looked all over the house and tried calling him on his cell phone but couldn't find him.

    When Drew Peterson returned, he was dressed in black, carrying a bag. When he dumped the clothes into the washer, she could see that they were women's clothes and they weren't hers.

    Schori, of the Westbrook Christian Church in Bolingbrook, said he spoke with Stacy Peterson months before she went missing.  He testified that she told him that she was "scared to be with him (Drew Peterson), but scared to be away from him," and that she thought "she would never be able to get away safely."

    On cross examination, the defense tried to suggest that Schori was coming forward to boost the fortunes of his small church.

    Schori's testimony was the most potentially damaging yet during a pretrial hearing to determine what hearsay evidence a judge will  allow jurors to hear when Peterson stands trial in the 2004 death of his third wife, Kathleen Savio, whose body was found in a dry bathtub in her home.

    Savio's death was originally ruled an accident. But after Drew Peterson was named a suspect in the disappearance of Stacy  Peterson in October 2007, Savio's body was exhumed, a new autopsy was conducted and her death was ruled a homicide.

    The hearing stems from a state law that allows a judge to admit hearsay evidence in first-degree murder cases if prosecutors can
    prove a defendant killed a witness to prevent him or her from testifying.

    In the nearly two weeks the hearing has gone on, witness after witness has limited testimony to either Savio or Stacy Peterson.
    Schori's testimony provided the clearest connection between the two cases.

    Judge Stephen White limited Schori's testimony, preventing him from talking about conversations Stacy Peterson had with her husband, among other things.

    Scott Rossetto, a friend of Stacy Peterson, said that days before Stacy Peterson disappeared she told him she had contacted a
    divorce lawyer and was ready to leave her husband.

    Then, he said, she asked if Rossetto could "keep a secret." She then told him that the night Savio died, Drew Peterson came in
    late at night and said "if anybody ever asks I was home," Rossetto said.

    Prosecutors also presented a neurologist to combat defense attorneys' contention that Savio's death was an accident, that she
    simply fell. Dr. Gene Neri testified that he had diagnosed her with cervical vertigo, but he said "In 30 years of treating (patients) I haven't had a single person fall as a result of cervical vertigo."

    In fact, he said that's because people with this particular kind of vertigo are extremely careful.

    Drew Peterson, a former Bolingbrook police sergeant, has pleaded not guilty to first-degree murder. He has not been charged in Stacy Peterson's disappearance, but authorities say he is considered the only suspect.