Continual coverage of the trial of
for the murder of his third wife,
Judge Edward Burmila told jurors they could go home or keep deliberating, and the jury has requested to go home. Burmila will bring them in to remind them to avoid any media coverage and dismiss them for the night.
Judge Edward Burmila said that jurors have asked for dinner.
But Burmila said he is concerned about how long the day has been for the jury, noting a recent conviction in Will County was overturned after an appellate court found they were made to deliberate for an excessive length of time.
The defense suggested that the court simply let them know that they have the option to continue or resume deliberations tomorrow, but prosecutors said the jurors have made their intentions known.
"Clearly they have communicated their desire to continue," Assistant State's Atty. Chris Koch said.
Burmila sent jurors a note asking if they would like to continue deliberating or stop and resume in the morning.
Jurors sent a note back to Burmila asking, "If we want to resume deliberations tomorrow, will we go home or will we stay somewhere?"
Transcripts have been read and jurors have resumed their deliberations.
For the second time, the defense has objected and requested a sidebar during the reading of the Harry Smith transcript.
In both instances, Joel Brodsky complained that the court reporter skipped over a portion of the transcript.
In the second objection, Brodsky objected to court reporter leaving out one of his questions to Smith that the state objected to at the time because it was a compound question. Burmila sustained the objection.
Burmila wondered why a question that was stricken due to a sustained objection should be read again.
"You asked a question. The state objected, and I sustained the objection. Why would we read that to the jury?" Burmila said.
"I'm sorry. I know that question was asked. You just asked me to ask it a different way," Brodsky mumbled
Burmila warned him to approach the court if he felt the court reporter misread something
"Don't say in front of the jury again, 'That's wrong,'" Burmila said. "The proofs are closed. I'm not asking for a response, just don't say that again."
The court reporter read a transcript of the testimony of Harry Smith, who was Savio's divorce attorney and another key hearsay witness who was actually called as a defense witness.
Smith, who was among the last few witnesses called the defense, testified that in the fall of 2007,
spoke to him on the telephone to say she wanted to divorce the defendant and asked whether she could use her knowledge of how her husband killed Savio as leverage in the divorce.
Smith testified that Stacy Peterson told him she believed the defendant was tracking her movements via her
, and that she got another cell phone that he didn't know about. Smith said she told him Drew Peterson was angry with her because he believed she told told Peterson’s son that his father murdered Savio
He also said he warned her to be careful, because she might be breaking the law by concealing a homicide.
Two jurors could be seen taking notes while the testimony was read
The court reporter is now reading a transcript of the testimony of pastor Neil Schori, who told the jury that in August 2007 he met with
Schori was a key hearsay witness for the state, testifying that Stacy Peterson began to cry as she told him how she awoke one night to find her husband was not in bed, that she was unable to find him or reach him by phone, and that she later saw him standing near the washing machine in their home.
Schori said Stacy Peterson told him she saw Drew Peterson placing his clothing and the contents of a bag into the washing machine, and that after he walked away, she looked into the machine and saw women’s clothes that were not hers. He said she told him that later the defendant coached her for hours on what to say when the police came to interview her, and that she later lied on his behalf.
As the court reporter read Schori's testimony, a female juror and three male jurors could be seen taking notes.
None of the jurors could be seen taking notes while the court reporter read details of the defense cross-examination of Schori.
The jury is again seated in the courtroom, and a court reporter is reading phone records concerning Drew Peterson's and Kathleen Savio's cell phone records in late February and early March 2004.
Fewer than half the jurors can been seen taking notes as the court reporter reads the telephone records. A Tribune reporter saw only five jurors, all male, taking notes as she spoke.
Judge Edward Burmila is going to have the court reporter read the testimony of pastor Neil Schori and divorce attorney Harry Smith to the jury, as well as a letter written by Kathleen Savio to the Will County state's attorney's office alleging abuse by Drew Peterson.
The jury requested the testimony transcripts, letter and phone records this morning.
The letter, which was read to the jury during the trial by the judge as part of a stipulation between the parties, was heavily redacted.
Defense attorney Steve Greenberg argued that the judge should send back the redacted letter, because he is allowing the jury to receive phone records between
and Drew Peterson. He argued that the judge is being inconsistent with the exhibits, and Burmila called a brief recess to allow the parties to research case law on the matter.
During the lunch break the jury sent a second note asking for photos of Kathleen Savio in the tub, autopsy photos and photos of bruises and
, and renewed their request for what they termed "the interview on July 5th, exhibit 40."
Judge Edward Burmila said he can only assume that the jurors want Savio's handwritten statement made to Bolingbrook Police Sgt. Teresa Kernc on July 18, 2002, alleging that Drew Peterson forced her down on the stairs of her home and held her for three hours and pulled a knife out before saying he could never hurt her.
Burmila said that he would send the photos the jurors requested, and would send the July 18 statement in a sealed envelope accompanied with a note stating that they should "open the document only if it is responsible to your request for July 5th reports."
Peterson's team is objecting to a number of the photos, saying they are "extremely brutal," but Burmila denied their objection.
Jurors have sent three questions to Judge Edward Burmila.
First, they asked for asked for Drew and
's phone records the weekend of Kathleen Savio death. Jurors also requested a transcript of testimony from Savio divorce attorney Harry Smith and the Rev. Neil Schori.
Burmila will read transcripts of the testimony, provide the exhibits and read an instruction to the jury.
While Burmila was preparing a response to the first two questions, jurors sent a third, asking for a police report from an alleged attack by Drew Peterson against Savio on her staircase.
Jurors are now eating lunch, so the evidence will be read this afternoon.
The jury has sent a question to the judge after about 90 minutes of deliberations.
Juror questions are common in many trials and are sometimes used to clarify instructions.
After the alternate jurors were taken to a separate jury room, Peterson attorney Steve Greenberg objected to Judge Edward Burmila's decision to hold them in reserve, saying trial rules require that alternates be dismissed once deliberations begin.
"You want me to discharge the alternate jurors, and if we need them I'm just supposed to call them up at home and tell the to come back?" Burmila said. "Are you telling me that Mr. Peterson would accept a verdict from 11 jurors?"
"That it would be a mistrial," Greenberg said.
State's Atty. James Glasgow said he believed Burmila's plan was the correct way to proceed, but the judge said he would revisit the defense request after his normal court call.
Before jurors left the courtroom to begin deliberations, Judge Edward Burmilla reminded them that Drew Peterson did not have to prove his innocence, and they cannot hold it against him that he didn't testify.
Jurors leave courtroom to begin deliberations at Drew Peterson murder trial.
The judge is now instructing the four alternate jurors that they are still part of the case and may be called upon to take part in deliberations if a jury is excused.
Judge Edward Burmila has begun instructing jurors before they begin their deliberations.
A jury of seven men and five women will begin deliberating today after hearing weeks of circumstantial and hearsay evidence against Drew Peterson, accused of killing his third wife.
On Tuesday, attorneys made their final pitches to the jurors during more than 41/2 hours of closing arguments that referenced everything from traumatic
to the film "Pulp Fiction."
Prosecutors asked jurors to use their common sense in weighing the testimony. But a defense attorney called the mysterious death of Kathleen Savio an accident and the case itself as "riddled with doubt like a piece of Swiss cheese."
Peterson, 58, a former Bolingbrook police sergeant, is on trial in the 2004 bathtub drowning of Savio. The death was treated as an accident until Peterson's fourth wife, Stacy, vanished in 2007.
Prosecutors took a fairly straightforward approach in their closings, urging jurors to look at the accumulated evidence including hearsay statements from Savio's friends, family and acquaintances that she feared Peterson would kill her as well as expert testimony that her death was a murder.
Defense attorney Joseph Lopez took a more colorful, sometimes rambling approach, larding his closing argument with pop culture references as well as metaphors of pie-eating cats and water balloons and anecdotes about his 4-year-old son.
He relied heavily on a slide presentation that began with a warning to jurors. "This case is about Kathy — not Stacy," the PowerPoint slide read with yellow text on a black background. "Do not forget that."
The courtroom and an overflow room across the hall were packed for the closing arguments. Members of Savio's family, including her sisters Sue and Anna Doman,
's sister Cassandra Cales and five Illinois State Police officials who helped lead both investigations were in the courtroom.
"I'm going to kill you," Assistant State's Attorney Christopher Koch said, quoting an alleged Peterson hearsay statement as he began his closing argument.
"You are not going to make it to the divorce settlement. You're not going to get the pensions, you're not going to get the kids," Koch said, repeating the hearsay statements jurors heard during the five-week trial. "That is the statement the defendant made to the victim weeks before her death. And you know what, ladies and gentlemen, that threat became reality."
At least seven times during his argument to jurors, Koch turned and jabbed a finger at Peterson. "It is clear that this man murdered Kathleen Savio," he said.
Peterson, who sat expressionless at the defense table, watched jurors closely, took notes and occasionally whispered to his attorneys.
Koch said the defense explanation for Savio's death — that she slipped and fell in her Bolingbrook home's bathtub — is belied by the injuries on her body. He repeatedly asked jurors to use their "common sense and everyday life experience" in judging how Savio died.
"It's not one side (of her body with injuries), it's four sides — how can you get that in one fall?" Koch asked jurors. "You can't do it, it's not possible."
He also said the hearsay statements cannot be discounted.
"This isn't one person. This is multiple people coming in here saying Savio said, 'He told me he would kill me and make it look like an accident,'" Koch said.
Particularly important for prosecutors was the testimony of the Rev. Neil Schori, who told jurors Stacy told him during a counseling session that she saw Peterson come home late dressed in black and carrying a bag of women's clothing.
Schori testified that Stacy told him Peterson coached her for hours on how to lie to state police about his murder of Savio.
Jurors sat up in their seats as Lopez began his 21/2-hour closing argument in which he referred to his client as "Sgt. Peterson." Several smiled or laughed as he compared trials to Monopoly and a Bears-Packers football game, claimed the French philosopher Voltaire once said "
sense is an uncommon thing" and called the state's case nothing but "spec-u-lation," drawing out the second syllable for effect.
He told jurors they can ignore the hearsay statements if they find them unreliable. Lopez said they don't add up to anything anyway.
"If you can't show it's a homicide, who cares?" Lopez said of the hearsay.
Lopez referenced a number of movies, including
and "Zorba the Greek," but at times he seemed to try jurors' patience. When he strained for several minutes to remember the name of the animated comedy "King of the Hill" to make a point about Savio's neighborhood, one juror sighed and raised his eyebrows.
The defense attorney also tried to hold attention with a variety of metaphors. He described circumstantial evidence with a story about a pie-eating cat and referred to Savio's head injury in the tub as being akin to dropping a water ballon at low speed on concrete.
"Boom! It explodes," said Lopez, calling Savio's death "a weird accident."
"Back of your head — same thing."
He also used his PowerPoint slides to poke fun at prosecution witnesses, putting up a photo of the Hollywood sign to mock Savio's sister Sue Doman, who signed a book and movie deal. Jeff Pachter, who testified that Peterson offered him $25,000 to find a hit man to kill Savio, was illustrated with a photo of
And Lopez repeatedly displayed a photo of the
Cat from the Disney animated film
in reference to Savio's divorce attorney Harry Smith, whom Lopez dubbed "Smiley" in another slide.
Smith's testimony as a defense witness last week was widely seen as damaging for Peterson. Smith said that Stacy asked him if she could use the fact that Peterson killed Savio as leverage in a possible divorce.
"You don't have to like Sgt. Peterson at all. You know what you have to like? That flag," Lopez said, pointing to an American flag on the dais next to the judge. "You have to like America. You have to like the Constitution. ...You have to like the principles that we live by in this country.
"You're making sure the government ain't going wild in a quest to get somebody," he said.
State's Attorney James Glasgow had the last word, going over what he described as a powerful accumulation of evidence that clearly demonstrated Peterson's guilt. His closing was repeatedly interrupted by defense objections and he struggled to find a rhythm.
"It's solid, it's real, and it proves beyond a reasonable doubt that Drew Peterson killed Kathleen Savio in cold blood," Glasgow told jurors.