"Good day folks, how are you?"
That's how Drew Peterson greeted his potential jurors as he arrived to court, from the jail, shackled, wearing a gray pinstriped suit.
Whatta charmer, that guy.
But potential jurors in Peterson's murder trial are likely to have several long and charmless weeks ahead of them.
In a highly unusual move, Will County Judge Stephen White said he'll rule on changing the trial venue on Oct. 2., and earlier in the day admonished potential jurors to not read or watch any news about the case, even though a trial could still be many months, possibly even a year away. Peterson stands accused of killing his third wife, Kathleen Savio.
"I have to do everything I can to protect the jury pool from publicity," the judge said, explaining the unusual move of assembling potential jurors months before a potential trial.
news could be a full time endeavor. The Today Show
did a phone interview with Peterson from jail a few months back and his story has captivated the nation. The man knows how to work the press, and the public.
As the proceedings began, White attempted to bar reporters from the courtroom. But when the assembled press protested that such a move would be illegal, and even prosecutors and defense attorneys pointed out the potential pitfalls of such a ruling, the judge relented and agreed to allow three pool reporters to remain present.
White told the potential jurors that news stories they might read or watch might not be true. He instructed them not to research the case on the Internet or discuss it with anyone, even family members.
"That was a very highly unusual procedure. I've never heard of anything even close to it occuring so far in advance of an actual trial," attorney Joel Brodsky said.
The judge advised the pool he had no plans to sequester Peterson's jury, and had no intention of holding a trial, which would last many months.
Published at 1:49 PM CDT on Aug 14, 2009 | Updated at 7:30 PM CDT on Aug 14, 2009