Appellate Court Overturns Peterson Hearsay Limits

An Illinois Appellate Court reversed a lower court's 2011 decision to limit the amount of hearsay testimony that would be allowed to go on record in the trial

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Drew Peterson's late wife Kathleen Savio could be allowed to testify from the grave in his coming murder trial after all.

    An Illinois Appellate Court reversed a lower court's 2011 decision to limit the amount of hearsay testimony that would be allowed to go on record in the trial, essentially clearing the way for a series letters, second hand statements and comments to friends about concerns for her safety.

    "The case was reversed and remanded," Peterson attorney Steve Greenberg said Thursday. "We're disappointed. We have the option to appeal. We're weighing our options right now."

    Will County State's Attorney Spokesman Chuck Pellie said his office received the ruling as well but will hold comment until they read through all that it contains.

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    Drew Peterson's late wife, Kathleen Savio, could be allowed to testify from the grave in his coming murder trial after all. An Illinois Appellate Court on Thursday reversed a lower court's 2011 decision to limit the amount of hearsay testimony that would be allowed to go on record in his murder trial, essentially clearing the way for a series letters, second hand statements and comments to friends about concerns for her safety. Jeff Goldblatt reports.

    "It's a lengthy decision," Pellie said. "We are just starting to go through it now to determine what it exactly means."

    What it likely means is that more hearsay evidence will be allowed on the record when Peterson's trial begins.

    Thursday's decision was issued by the same appellate court which upheld the lower court's ruling last year, saying it didn't have the jurisdiction to overturn the lower court's decision to limit what hearsay evidence would be admitted.

    The original decision allowed for just six of 14 pieces of hearsay evidence:

    (1) portions of a letter that Kathleen wrote to the Will County State’s Attorney’s office which described a confrontation that Kathleen allegedly had with the defendant on July 5, 2002, while the divorce proceedings were pending;
    (2) a redacted version of a handwritten statement that Kathleen gave to the Bolingbrook police describing the alleged July 5, 2002, incident;
    (3) a statement that Kathleen allegedly made to her sister, Anna Doman;
    (4) a statement that Kathleen allegedly made in late 2003 to Mary Sue Parks, who attended nursing classes with Kathleen at Joliet Junior College;
    (5) another statement that Kathleen allegedly made to Parks; and
    (6) a statement that Stacy allegedly made to her pastor, Neil Schori, regarding an encounter that she allegedly had with her husband on the night Kathleen died. 11 The circuit court ruled that the remaining eight hearsay statements proffered by the State did not meet the statutory standard of reliability and that the interests of justice would not be served by the admission of those statements.

    The Illinois Supreme Court admonished the Appellate Court for not ruling on the issue and sent it back for new consideration.

    Thursday's Appellate Court Opinion: