Drew Peterson's Lead Lawyer Steps Down

Joel Brodsky withdraws from case

An attorney who came under criticism for his handling of Drew Peterson's murder trial is leaving the defense team as it prepares for the former suburban Chicago police officer's sentencing.

But who prompted that move depends on which attorney is asked.

"Drew asked me," said new attorney David Pielet. "[He] wanted to know if I wouild mediate a settlement between attorneys [Steve] Greenberg and [Joel] Brodsky. ... Post-trial motions were due and nothing was getting done because those two hated each other so much."

But Brodsky said it was his decision to bow out of the case and said it was one that Peterson "was not happy with."

Peterson was convicted of first-degree murder last month

in the 2004 drowning death of his third wife, Kathleen Savio.

"The focus was not on the client and his issues ... and I had to do something to get the case back on track," he said, as Peterson's attorneys prepare for a sentencing hearing in January in which he faces up to 60 years in prison. "Now the case can focus on the issues and not the personalities."

Savio's death was initially ruled an accident. Her body was exhumed and her death ruled a homicide only after Peterson's fourth wife, Stacy Peterson, disappeared in 2007. Authorities presume Stacy Peterson is dead; Drew Peterson is a suspect but has never been charged in that case.

Before his arrest in Savio's death, Peterson went on television shows and radio shows, making jokes that observers said would make him an unsympathetic figure with potential jurors. Brodsky was often right there with him.

When it came to the trial, fellow defense attorney Greenberg questioned why Brodsky called Savio's former attorney -- a witness some jurors said was particularly damaging to Peterson's defense.

The two engaged in a war of words after Peterson's conviction, a battle that made headlines in local media.

On Tuesday, after announcing his decision to leave the defense team as it prepares for Peterson's Jan. 10 sentencing and a planned appeal of the conviction later, Brodsky defended the way he handled the case.

But he also acknowledged that while he does not think Peterson's attorneys will base their appeal in part on an argument that he was ineffective as an attorney, he said he wanted there to be no question about whether he would stand in the way of such an argument.

"The guy is looking at first-degree murder and my feeling is that if Drew Peterson has 101 arguments to make I don't want him to be able to make 100 arguments," he said. "I don't want anybody to ever say that I impeded him in any way."

Peilet is now the lead attorney, with Greenberg and attorney Joe Lopez remaining part of Brodsky's defense team. Brodsky said he will still represent Peterson in civil matters.

Drew Peterson Murder Trial

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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