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Peterson case shifts to appeal, missing 4th wife
Stacy Peterson » The body has never been found; her husband is a suspect but hasn’t been charged.

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"The law has to be challenged," said Ralph Meczyk, another of Peterson’s attorneys. "It’s in the appellate court now, and it should go to the Illinois Supreme Court. Our belief is that it does violate the 6th Amendment," which details the rights of criminal defendants.

Meczyk said the U.S. Supreme Court has "ruled on the issue" but that the Illinois Supreme Court "does not have to follow in lockstep."

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Glasgow said he isn’t worried about an appeal.

"They’re absolutely wrong," he said. Federal law is clear and has been upheld around the country, and state law is solidly in his corner, he insisted.

"If you murder a witness to silence them, you extinguish your right to confront the witness," he said.

Daniel Coyne, a clinical professor of law at the Chicago-Kent College of Law, said the hearsay evidence guarantees an extensive appeal process that could take the case’s constitutional questions to the U.S. Supreme Court. He said attorneys could argue that Peterson’s constitutional right to confront his accuser was infringed.

Whatever happens, Thursday’s verdict was a stunning latest chapter in a saga that has been the stuff of tabloids and cable television in the five years since Stacy Peterson disappeared.

It was then — after the fourth wife of the police officer, 30 years her senior, vanished — that authorities reopened the investigation into the death of Savio, whose body was found in a dry bathtub three years earlier.

While search teams were scouring the woods lakes and even construction sites near Peterson’s Bolingbrook home, Glasgow’s office was digging up Savio’s body — an exhumation that led authorities to determine her death was not an accident, but a homicide.

The trial was the first of its kind in Illinois history, with prosecutors building their case largely on hearsay thanks to a new law, dubbed "Drew’s Law," tailored to Peterson’s case. That hearsay, prosecutors had said, would let his third and fourth wives "speak from their graves" — through family and friends — to convict Peterson.

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Hearsay is any information reported by a witness that is not based on direct knowledge.

One after another, witnesses told jurors that Savio told of being threatened by Peterson, that she feared for her life and slept with a knife under her mattress out of concerns that Peterson would follow through threats and kill her.

During the trial — as Peterson sat quietly, his face never betraying any emotion — witnesses testified about how Savio’s body was discovered by a neighbor March 1, 2004. She was face down in her dry bathtub, her thick, black hair soaked in blood and a 2-inch gash on the back of her head.

Defense attorneys presented their own experts to counter pathologists who told jurors Savio’s death was murder. Her death, they said, was an accident in 2004 and it remained an accident in 2012.

Jurors heard that Peterson had divorced Savio a year before her death and, according to prosecutors, killed her out of fear that a pending settlement, which included their $300,000 home, a tavern they both owned and Peterson’s police pension, would wipe him out financially.

With Peterson often acting glib and cocky during the investigation — seeming to taunt authorities, even suggesting a "Win a Conjugal Visit With Drew" contest on a radio show after his 2009 arrest — the case was tabloid fodder from the start and even was turned into a TV movie starring Rob Lowe.

What jurors did not hear or see was any physical evidence tying Peterson to Savio’s death. Nor did they hear from any witnesses who placed Peterson at the scene at the time of Savio’s death, or even an exact time she died or how Peterson might have drowned her.

Savio’s brother mentioned Stacy Peterson as he read a statement from the family outside court after Thursday.

"Stacy, you are now next for justice," Nick Savio declared as he finished speaking.

Copyright 2014 The Salt Lake Tribune. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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