A stunned Joel Brodsky responded to the arrest of his client Drew Peterson in connection with the 2004 murder of Kathleen Savio by reiterating his client's innocence and by repeating Peterson's belief that Savio's death was nothing more than a tragic accident.
Brodsky was on his way to New York City when he heard the news of Peterson's arrest and does not even expect to see his client until Sunday when he returns. While admitting he and Drew Peterson have long since had a plan of action to be put into motion in the event of Peterson's arrest, he was surprised at Thursday's events, saying "We had no idea." Brodsky went on to add that his being out of town during his client's arrest was never part of the plan.
As Peterson sat in jail awaiting his arraignment and facing two counts of murder in connection with Savio's death, his attorney fervently maintained his client's innocence.
"We're going to vehemently and vigorously defend this case. It's a circumstantial case at best," Brodsky told NBC Chicago. "If you recall, Drew Peterson already took a polygraph exam regarding Kathleen Savio's death for that book Drew Peterson Exposed and passed the polygraph exam totally."
Brodsky appeared on the Today Show in New York City Friday morning speaking out in defense of his client and reiterating that even in this high profile case, the burden of proof is not on his client but on the state. "You have to remember that Drew doesn't have to prove his innocence, the state has to prove his guilt beyond a reasonable doubt," Brodsky stated on the program. He explained his opinion that the case against his client is "circumstantial at best" and reaffirmed his belief that his client has nothing to hide. "Drew has accounted for all his time during the period of time Kathleen died...the scenario of him doing this is basically almost impossible for him to have accomplished," Brodsky said.
Brodsky also responded to questioning regarding a statement Peterson reportedly made as he was being arrested that "I should have returned those library books," as was reported by the Daily Herald.
The attorney urged that humor is how his client copes with stress and it should not be perceived as a sign of guilt. Additionally, Brodsky feels Peterson's use of humor in this situation is not a suggestion that his client does not understand the severity of the situation in which he currently finds himself. "That's just Drew's way of reacting to a stressful situation. He's always has reacted to stressful situations with humor and wisecracks. That's just his nature. It's almost impossible not to know how serious this is. It is a very serious matter and he understands that," Brodsky told NBC.
"My first concern is his children," Brodsky said, stating that Drew's primary concern should he get arrested would be that his children were safe."
The initial shock of the arrest aside, Brodsky said he fully intends to show Peterson's innocence and he hopes to start by getting a lower bail amount, calling the $20 million bail at which Peterson is currently being held "truly excessive." The bond amount where it currently stands, along with what Brodsky considers to be a low probability of finding an unbiased jury amid the attention around his client's case, suggest Brodsky will also push for a change in venue if the case goes to trial.
"I think we're going to look for a jury outside of Northern Illinois, that goes without saying," said Brodsky, adding "I believe an unbiased jury is going to clearly see that these charges are unfounded and the evidence is, at best, weak, circumstantial, and based on rumor."
Additionally, the attorney is strongly opposed to a recent law allowing certain third party statements, which previously would have likely been classified as hearsay, to be submitted into evidence and he confidently believes he is not the only lawyer who opposes this new law.
"It's a horrible law. Not only is it constitutionally problematic but just in general it allows so much rumor, innuendo, backyard gossip into a court of law where it doesn't belong. We believe we are going to be challenging that law."
Will County States Attorney James Glasgow views the ability to utilize select third party statements in a substantially different light and is likely going to use this new law to his advantage.
"In essence what you're basically allowing the victim of a violent crime to do is to testify from the grave," Glasgow said at a press briefing Thursday evening. Glasgow also clarified that the usage of these statements in court also comes with "very serious protections for the defendant's rights."
Drew Peterson is expected to appear in court for arraignment at 1:30 p.m. on Friday. Brodsky plans to be back in the Chicago area and speaking with his client on Sunday.