Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

National and World

September 6, 2012

Jury convicts Drew Peterson of 3rd wife's death

(Continued)

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

Prosecutors suspect Peterson killed his pretty, sandy-haired fourth wife because she could finger him for Savio's death, but her body has never been found and no charges have ever been filed. Jurors weren't supposed to link her disappearance to Savio's death, and prosecutors were prohibited from mentioning the subject.

Stacy Peterson's family hoped a conviction in Savio's murder could lead to charges against Drew Peterson in Stacy's disappearance. He says his fourth wife ran off with another man and is still alive.

In trying Peterson for Savio's death, prosecutors faced enormous hurldes.

They had no physical evidence tying Peterson to Savio's death and no witnesses placing him at the scene. They were forced to rely on typically barred hearsay — statements Savio made to others before she died and that Stacy Peterson made before she vanished. Illinois passed the hearsay law in 2008, making the evidence admissible at trials in rare circumstances.

The hearsay included friend Kristin Anderson testifying that Savio told her Peterson once warned her at knifepoint, "I could kill you and make it look like an accident."

Stacy Peterson's pastor, Neil Schori, testified she told him that her husband got up from bed and left their house in the middle of the night around the time of Savio's death. Drew Peterson later coached his fourth wife on how to lie to police, Schori said.

There was some damning testimony not based on hearsay.

A former co-worker of Peterson's, Jeff Pachter, testified that Peterson offered him $25,000 to hire a hit man to kill Savio, though he never followed through. After Savio was found dead, Peterson told him, "That favor I asked you — I don't need it anymore."

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