Week 3 of the Drew Peterson trial brought even more unexpected twists in a fascinating case with no physical evidence but an abundance of circumstantial evidence. We saw yet another motion for mistrial last week (that’s 3 so far, if you’re counting) when the prosecution blatantly ignored the judge’s orders banning a certain line of testimony. Not once, but twice last week the prosecution ignored the judge’s orders, leading him to tell the court he “wanted to blow his brains out” because he was so frustrated.
First, the prosecution posed a line of questioning to Bolingbrook Police Lt. Teresa Kernc about a supposed order of protection considered by Kathleen Savio after she alleged Drew threatened her with a knife in 2002. The prosecution, ignoring judge’s orders, asked Kernc about the order of protection, prompting the defense to call for a mistrial. The defense withdrew their motion the following day, and the judge ordered the jury not to consider that part of the testimony.
That same day prosecutors again ignored judge’s orders when pathologist Dr. Larry Blum was on the stand. Blum performed the second autopsy on Savio’s body in 2007, after her body was exhumed, and as part of his investigation he got into Savio’s bathtub to determine whether it could have been an accident. The prosecution was ordered not to ask Blum specifically about getting into her bathtub, but they ignored orders and asked anyways, prompting the judge to again order the jury to ignore that part of the testimony.
The reason why the prosecutors’ missteps are important is because with each ignored order, the defense is even more likely to win on appeal if Drew Peterson is convicted. However, despite these missteps, both witnesses were very strong for the prosecution. Kernc told the court that Savio had written in her 2002 police report that she told Drew ,”‘Go ahead, just kill me.’ He said, ‘Where do you want it?’ and I said, ‘In the head.’ He said, ‘OK, then turn your head,’ and I did it. And then he said that he would never be able to hurt me. And then he left.” Kernc also testified that Savio told her verbally Drew had threatened her with a knife, though Savio declined to include that in her written report.
Dr. Larry Blum was also an incredibly strong witness because he explained to the court why he felt Savio’s death was not an accident, but indeed a homicide. He said it would have been impossible for the blood found on her face and head to dry the way it did had water been in the tub. He explained that she had a number of fresh bruises, not old ones like the defense claims, and that the bruises were not consistent with someone who slips and falls. He also explained that the laceration to the back of her head isn’t consistent with a fall in the bathtub because of the way the tub was shaped, with no sharp edges. And most damningly he said a healthy 40-year-old woman like Savio doesn’t just drown in a tub accidentally.
Jon Leiberman and I discuss these details and others in Monday’s episode of The CrimeLine, click HERE to watch. Also interesting to note is that in 2009, WGN radio in Chicago conducted a full mock trial of Drew Peterson, using all of the facts public at the time. In fact, Peterson’s defense team found mock defense attorney Joe Lopez’s arguments so strong, they hired him to join the actual team and he is currently one of the attorney’s representing Peterson. Karen Conti posed as the prosecution in the mock trial, before 12 mock jurors, and she will join us on The CrimeLine next Monday to explain why that trial ended in a hung jury and whether the actual trial will too. Stay tuned.