State Senate OKs Hearsay Evidence

Legislation would allow for testimony from the grave

The Illinois State Senate on Wednesday unanimously approved legislation that would allow the dead to testify from beyond the grave.

Hearsay statements might apply to missing Bolingbrook mother Stacy Peterson, the wife of retired Bolingbrook Police Sgt. Drew Peterson. State Police say he is a suspect in her "potential homicide." A minister has said that Stacy Peterson told him that Drew Peterson killed a previous wife, Kathleen Savio.

The law might also come into play in the Savio case. She sent a letter to a prosecutor that said, Peterson "knows how to manipulate the system, and his next step is to take my children away. Or kill me instead."

In Wisconsin last year, a judge allowed jurors to hear such statements in the trial of a man accused of poisoning his wife 10 years ago. In the weeks before the woman's death, she wrote a letter to a neighbor indicating that she believed her husband was going to kill her.

The man's lawyers argued that such statements should be kept out of evidence because the Constitution granted him the right to cross-examine his accusers. However, the judge argued that he may have forfeited that constitutional right to cross-examine by rendering his wife unavailable, in this case, by killing her.

The Illinois legislation would take effect immediately if approved next week by the House.

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