Illinois Prosecutors Respond to Drew Peterson Appeal - NBC Chicago

Illinois Prosecutors Respond to Drew Peterson Appeal

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    Illinois Prosecutors Respond to Drew Peterson Appeal

    Prosecutors have asked a court to reject former police officer Drew Peterson's appeal of his murder conviction.

    The Will County state's attorney's office says it filed a 60-page brief Thursday morning with Illinois' Third District Appellate Court in in Ottawa.

    Peterson gained notoriety after his fourth wife, Stacy Peterson, disappeared in 2007. He was convicted in 2012 of killing his third wife, Kathleen Savio, and sentenced to 38 years in prison.

    Peterson's legal team filed their 55-page appeal in January. It argues prosecutors had no physical evidence tying Peterson to Savio's death and no witnesses placing him at the scene.

    "The State did not present a single eyewitness, physical evidence linking Drew with Kathleen's body, forensic evidence linking Drew with Kathleen's body, or a confession from Drew," the appeal says. "And while it is true there is no magic formula for a murder conviction, at least one of these pieces of evidence is usually present where an appellate court upholds murder convictions."

    At trial, prosecutors often relied on typically barred hearsay. Testimony focused on statements Savio made to others before she died and that Stacy Peterson made before she vanished.

    Peterson's appeal singles out one witness, divorce attorney Harry Smith, as sealing Peterson's fate at trial. The defense had hoped that Smith's testimony would discredit Stacy Peterson, because he said she had asked him if she could squeeze more money out of Peterson in a divorce if she threatened to tell police he killed Savio. Instead, the testimony stressed to jurors that Stacy Peterson seemed to truly believe her husband killed Savio.

    The appeal argues that not only did then-lead defense attorney Joel Brodsky err in calling Smith, but the judge did as well by allowing the testimony.

    Brodsky in January noted Peterson himself told the judge in court he wanted Smith to testify.

    "I am confident that Drew got the best defense a person could get and that the appellate court will find he did not have ineffective assistance," he said. "Mr. Greenberg's appeal strategy is a losing strategy."

    The defense has two weeks to file a reply brief.

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