Accused murderer Drew Peterson and his attorney, Joel Brodsky, claimed victory Tuesday evening, hours after an appellate court upheld limitations on so-called hearsay evidence.
"The nutshell is we won’t have to face the majority of the hearsay," said Brodsky. "The hearsay we will have to face we were going to face one year ago. We’re really not that concerned about it."
Peterson is charged with killing his ex-wife, Kathleen Savio. He's also a suspect in the disappearance nearly four years ago of his fourth wife, Stacy Peterson.
Tuesday's decision by a panel of the Third District Appellate Court in Ottawa excludes eight statements prosecutors argue would tie Peterson to the slaying. Prosecutors haven't revealed what, if any, physical evidence they have linking the former Bolingbrook police sergeant to Savio's death. They've only said the hearsay evidence was crucial to their case.
"We’re just going to have a trial now basically facts; on is there any real evidence tying Drew Peterson to Kathy Savio’s death and that’s what it should be," said Brodsky.
Some hearsay evidence will still be permitted at trial, including a letter Savio sent to the State's Attorney describing an alleged physical confrontation with Peterson.
The Will County State's Attorney late Tuesday released a statement saying it "strongly disagrees" with the ruling.
"The majority ruling is erroneous and irremediably flawed because it assumes a proposition that it cannot support," prosecutors said in a statement.
Nick Savio, the half-brother of Kathleen Savio, said he believes Will County's case will now be hamstrung because of its ability to present a complete portfolio of hearsay evidence.
"But hopefully [Peterson will] be noted for what he’s done in the past with his grinning, his smiling, his cockiness, and hopefully jurors see through that and he is prosecuted and put in jail for the rest of his life where he belongs," he said.
Savio expressed disappointment that he heard about the decision from the media and not from the Will County State’s Attorney.
"It was devastating to have to hear it from the news instead of the prosecutor’s office having the guts to call. I’m really disappointed with our constitution and the justice system."
Brodsky said he expects the trial to begin in September. His client, who still sits in the Will County Jail in Joliet, said of Tuesday's ruling: "It's great. It's about time."