Two investigators who led what prosecutors say was an inept inquiry into the 2004 drowning of Kathleen Savio are expected to take the stand today in the Drew Peterson murder trial.
Savio's death was at first treated as a household accident. Prosecutors have laid the blame for that on former Illinois State Police crime scene investigator Robert Deel, who they allege ruled out foul play in Savio's bathtub drowning within 30 minutes of arriving at her Bolingbrook home.
Will County State's Attorney James Glasgow even mentioned Deel by name during his closing argument in a 2010 pretrial hearing, telling a judge that former Bolingbrook police Sgt. Peterson had staged the scene well enough to "fool" Deel.
"He bit on it hook, line and sinker," Glasgow said. He noted that Deel had testified that Savio's bruises were "insignificant" and said, "If you have an evidence tech like that running a crime scene, you have a problem."
Prosecutors have suggested that Deel's position swayed a state police sergeant handling his first homicide investigation and led the county's pathologist to include a line in his report that Savio's head wound may have been caused by a fall in her tub.
Defense attorneys have argued that there is no evidence the crime scene was staged or that Savio's death was anything but an accident. Deel has testified that he also believes Savio's death was an accident.
Peterson's trial got under way last week with opening statements and the first prosecution witnesses. The judge halted the trial Friday afternoon to give a sick juror time to recover, and testimony is expected to resume Tuesday morning.
Deel, who has since been reassigned to patrol, testified during a pretrial hearing in 2010 that Will County prosecutors asked that he never work another crime scene in their county after Peterson's fourth wife, Stacy, vanished in 2007.
Prosecutors believe Peterson murdered Stacy, but he has not been charged and denies any wrongdoing. After she disappeared and her case became national tabloid fodder, authorities took another look at Savio's death, ultimately exhuming her body and ruling her death a homicide after a second autopsy.
Deel testified that he did not gather any evidence from Savio's home, ignoring a plastic glass of orange juice in her kitchen and failing to notice a mug of tea left in her microwave, items that a defense lawyer pointed out could have been tested for DNA.
He denied making up his mind that night about how Savio died, saying it wasn't until after the autopsy and a coroner's jury ruled her death an accident that he agreed. And Deel testified that he would not have investigated the scene differently if he had thought it was a murder.
Retired state police Sgt. Patrick Collins also might testify Tuesday. Collins contradicted Deel's account of the night Savio's body was found, testifying during the 2010 hearing that Deel told him her death was an accident.
"I relied on that particular night and case very heavily on investigator Deel because that was my first homicide," Collins testified in 2010. "I did ask him should we collect anything. He basically informed me that it appeared to be accidental."
Peterson was interviewed on his home turf at the Bolingbrook Police Department, Collins testified. He also testified that he granted Peterson some "professional courtesy" when he interviewed Stacy, allowing Peterson to sit in on the interview.
Collins testified that Peterson sat less than a foot away from Stacy during the police interview "almost like guarding her." She told police Peterson was home with her, a statement prosecutors hope to contradict later in the trial by using hearsay from a counseling session with her pastor.Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times