The defense rested its’ case this week in the Drew Peterson trial, but not before making a bold move that could put their client behind bars. Their first several defense witnesses were no surprise, including pathologists who testified Kathleen Savio’s injuries were consistent with a fall in the bathtub and that her death was an accident. They also put Mary Pontarelli, Savio’s neighbor and friend, back on the stand to testify that Savio was “tough-she wouldn’t let someone hit her without hitting back.” Finally, they had Drew’s son Tom on to testify he believed his dad was innocent & that he’d never suspected his dad killed his mom.
However, before putting Tom on the stand the defense made what could be a fatal mistake, one which the prosecution called “a gift from God.” Joel Brodsky called Harry Smith, Savio’s divorce attorney, to the stand to testify that in 2007 Stacy Peterson had called him asking that if she told police Drew killed Kathleen, could she get more money in a divorce? Brodsky hoped the testimony would discount last week’s testimony from Pastor Neil Schori, who claimed Stacy told him that Drew killed Kathleen and then coached Stacy on what to tell police. Brodsky hoped to prove that Stacy was lying, and instead was trying to extort money from Drew. Yet, Smith’s testimony had the opposite effect. It basically confirmed Stacy’s claims that Drew killed Kathleen. Jurors are not supposed to consider the fact that Stacy, Drew’s fourth wife, is missing & that her disappearance is what launched the homicide investigation into Kathleen’s death in the first place. However, by bringing Stacy up and then bizarrely asking Smith why she never retained his services, the elephant in the room got a lot bigger. How can jurors ignore Stacy now that she essentially testified through Smith?
I discussed the move that could cost the defense their case with WGN this week, telling Lourdes Duarte that if the jury returns a guilty verdict, Brodsky will have only himself to blame. The burden of proof is on the prosecution. They need to prove not only that this was a homicide, but that Drew did it. In a case with no physical evidence, all the defense needed to do was get up there and say, what if it was an accident? All they needed to do was create some doubt in jurors minds. Calling Smith to testify about Stacy was a completely unnecessary move and one that could end up sealing the deal for jurors instead. The jury will be deliberating this week, so stay tuned for a CrimeLine special once the verdict has been returned.