Illinois' murder trial of the century

Trial Judge Assigned to Drew Peterson Murder Case

Drew Peterson appeared before a judge for the first time since 2010

By Kim Vatis
|  Saturday, May 5, 2012  |  Updated 2:48 PM CDT
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After two years of trial delays, Drew Peterson returned to court Friday and a trial judge was named to the murder case.NBC5 Kim Vatis reports.

After two years of trial delays, Drew Peterson returned to court Friday and a trial judge was named to the murder case.NBC5 Kim Vatis reports.

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Drew Peterson Returns to Court

Drew Peterson appeared before a judge Friday for the first time since 2010. NBC Chicago reporter Michelle Relerford has the full report.
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After two years of trial delays, Drew Peterson returned to court Friday and a trial judge was named to the murder case.

Will County Associate Judge Edward Burmila was named to preside over the trial. Burmila was state’s attorney before Jim Glasgow, who is prosecuting Peterson.

Peterson, now 58 years old, is charged with killing his ex-wife, Kathleen Savio, after she was found dead at her Bolingbrook home in a bathtub in 2004. He entered the courtroom Friday in a blue jail-issued shirt and pants. His hair, mustache and beard were gray, and he had chains connecting the handcuffs on his hands and feet. 

It was the first time the former Bolingbrook police officer appeared before a judge since 2010.

"He's obviously glad the process is starting again," said attorney Joel Brodsky. "The waiting and sitting on his hands is over."

The case has been stalled in the appellate courts since Peterson's arrest. During that time, the trial judge retired and a movie starring Rob Lowe was made about the case and aired on Lifetime in January.

In court, Peterson was seen waving and smiling to someone. When the bailiff said there must be "no communication with anyone in custody," Peterson said, "That would be me."

The bailiff then snapped, "Sir, that is inappropriate."

Before the hearing, Brodsky told reporters more motions will be filed and could be related to hearsay evidence, but he said he could be ready for trial in 60 to 90 days.

Peterson also remains the main suspect in the 2007 disappearance of his fourth wife, Stacy Peterson, but he denies any wrongdoing.

"We are going to challenge the evidence," Peterson lawyer Steve Greenberg said.

The appellate court recently issued a ruling that would make it easier for prosecutors to use hearsay evidence, which they say will allow Peterson's ex-wife to speak from the grave. The case returns to a Joliet courtroom for a 9:30 a.m. status hearing.

The trial could start as early as this spring.

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