Continual coverage of the trial of Drew Peterson for the murder of his third wife, Kathleen Savio.
5:30 p.m. Testimony concludes for day
Testimony from Mary Case, a St. Louis County medical examiner who was the only witness in the trial today, has concluded and court is done for the day.
3:20 p.m. 'It is a homicide'
The state's final question to St. Louis County Medical Examiner Mary Case during its direct examination was whether she had an opinion on the manner of death.
"I do," Case said. "My opinion is that it is a homicide, meaning that some other person did it."
3:10 p.m. 'I hope they like to walk'
After yet another sidebar, the jury was led out of the courtroom. A few minutes later, Judge Edward Burmila asked that the bailiff bring the jury back.
"I hope they like to walk," he muttered as the bailiff left the room.
2:20 p.m. Fall wouldn't have knocked out Savio
Medical examiner Mary Case said that it was her opinion that a fall in the tub would not have rendered Kathleen Savio unconscious.
Rapid acceleration of the brain within the skull can cause a diffuse brain injury resulting in concussions, loss of consciousness or death. These injuries are common in car accidents.
In Savio's case, she could not have fallen fast enough to cause her to hit her head hard enough to knock herself out, Case said.
"It's not the type of force we would see from a standing position, falling in a tub and striking the head," she said. "That is not enough significant force to produce a diffuse brain injury."
2 p.m. Cut on Savio's head focus of testimony
Testimony in the Drew Peterson trial resumed this afternoon with St. Louis County Medical Examiner Mary Case.
Case testified that the blow to the back Kathleen Savio's head was not forceful enough to damage the layers of tissue between the skin and the skull.
"It did not penetrate the galea, it did not damage the bone," she said. "It was, you know, whatever force was enough to just damage the skin."
11:55 a.m. More starts and stops for trial
The defense objected to State’s Attorney James Glasgow asking medical examiner Mary Case if Dr. Bryan Mitchell, who performed the original autopsy on Kathleen Savio in 2004, offered any manner of death.
Judge Edward Burmila ordered the jury out, and the defense argued that Mitchell was not authorized to determine anything more than cause of death.
Glasgow argued that Mitchell, who noted that Savio’s head wound may have been the result of a fall, did not say whether her death was accidental or otherwise. He wanted Case to testify that Mitchell's "unfortunate" and "half-baked" assumption would not meet the standard needed for manner of death.
Burmila said Case could say whether Mitchell listed a manner of death, but prosecutors could not ask whether she had an opinion about what Mitchell thought about how Savio died.
The jury was brought back in, and Glasgow complied with the judge's order, but the defense objected again within seconds and the jury was led out again.
The defense argued it's improper to lead the jury to believe Mitchell erred in not listing a manner of death, since at that time such determinations were made by a coroner's jury.
The trial is on a lunch break until 1:15 p.m.
11:25 a.m. Judge will tell jury to ignore names
Judge Edward Burmila said he would allow Medical Examiner Mary Case to return to the stand after he instructs the jury to ignore the names she mentioned earlier.
11 a.m. Judge halts trial yet again
Just minutes into Medical Examiner Mary Case's testimony, the trial ground to a halt as the judge stopped her in mid-sentence and asked that the jury be led out of the courtroom.
At issue was Case's testimony that she reviewed reports and statements about the Savio case from witnesses who have been or will be called, as well as similar documents from people the state does not intend to call or whose testimony was barred.
"So now the doctor has advised the jury that she has reviewed the sworn testimony from people this jury will never hear from," Burmila said. "And what are we going to do about that?"
The defense, which did not raise an objection, seized the opportunity to argue that the state erred in allowing Case to mention the names of the barred or un-called witnesses.
"It would be entirely inappropriate for her to comment on any of those things, particularly at this point," Peterson attorney Darryl Goldberg said.
The trial recessed for the state to try locate case law showing other instances where an expert witness has been allowed to talk about the findings of witnesses who were not themselves called to testify.
Judge Edward Burmila has stopped the trial several times, frustrating some jurors. The trial was put on hold three times previously so Burmila could consider whether to declare a mistrial after prosecution errors.
10:30 a.m. Medical examiner takes the stand
The first witness of the day isSt. LouisCounty Medical Examiner Mary Case, a prosecution expert on what renders people unconscious.
10 a.m. Judge allows hit man testimony
Judge Edward Burmila will allow testimony about Drew Peterson's alleged attempt to hire a hit man to kill his wife because it shows the former Bolingbrook police sergeant's possible intent. The prosecution, however, cannot argue that Peterson tried to put a hit on his third wife, Kathleen Savio, only that the testimony show he wanted her dead, Burmila said.
The ruling clears the way for Jeff Pachter to take the stand at some point this week. Pachter, who once worked with Peterson at his side job as cable outfitter, is expected to testify that the former Bolingbrook police sergeant offered him $25,000 to hire a hit man to kill Savio in late 2003, just a few months before her death.
The prosecution initially had been chastised for mentioning the possible hit man testimony during opening statements because the state had not notified the defense of its plans to use it. Last week, Burmila ruled that the prosecution did not understand the law and therefore could file a late notice to have the witness testify.
9:15 a.m. Investigator due on stand
Witnesses on the list for today are Illinois State Police investigator Bryan Falat and forensic neuropathologist Mary Case.
Falat was one of the officers who investigated Kathleen Savio's death in 2004. Falat has testified previously that he believed the initial investigation was inadequate.
6:45 a.m. 2 key witnesses could testify
The Drew Peterson trial enters its fourth week of testimony Tuesday with prosecutors hoping to call two potentially powerful witnesses.
Both the Rev. Neil Schori and Jeff Pachter, a former Peterson co-worker, could take the stand this week if their appearances survive challenges from the defense.
Prosecutors want to call Schori to testify that Peterson's missing fourth wife, Stacy, told him during a pastoral counseling session that she saw her husband return home late, dressed in black and carrying a bag of women's clothing, not long before his third wife, Kathleen Savio, was found dead. His testimony is critical to the prosecution because another witness who said he heard a similar story from Stacy Peterson was not allowed to testify last week because of missteps by the state.
Schori's account would be the strongest piece of evidence prosecutors have introduced so far that could show Drew Peterson behaved suspiciously the weekend Savio died. No physical evidence or eyewitness account ties him to the alleged murder, which a coroner's jury initially ruled was an accident.
Peterson's attorneys long have sought to bar Schori from the trial, but Judge Edward Burmila has ruled that marital privilege does not apply to his testimony because Stacy Peterson was relaying what she saw, not what she heard. Burmila has indicated that he still must decide whether the testimony is relevant to the case.
Prosecutors also will try to persuade the judge to allow Pachter to take the stand. Pachter, who once worked with Drew Peterson at his side job as cable outfitter, is expected to testify that the former Bolingbrook police sergeant offered him $25,000 to hire a hit man to kill Savio in late 2003, just a few months before her death.
Peterson, 58, is charged with killing Savio, 40, who was found dead in a dry bathtub March 1, 2004. Officials initially ruled the death an accidental drowning, but after Stacy Peterson disappeared three years later, authorities reopened Savio's case and determined she had been killed.
Drew Peterson has not been charged in Stacy Peterson's disappearance, though he remains a suspect. He denies wrongdoing in both cases.
Prosecutors still have about a dozen witnesses remaining, and it's possible they could rest by week's end. However, given the slow-moving nature of the trial, it's possible the state's case could continue into a fifth week.
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