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Will Drew Peterson go free? (+video)

The judge in the murder case involving a former police officer in a Chicago suburb is again considering declaring a mistrial. An attorney for the state asked a witness a question that the judge had told her not to mention in front of the jury. 

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At one point, Savio allegedly told Peterson, "Go ahead and do what you came to do: Kill me," Kernc testified.

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"He said, 'Where do you want it?' And she said, 'In the head.'" Kernc testified.

Peterson then allegedly told Savio to turn her head, which Savio did, Kernc said, based on what Savio told her.

"And then he said, 'I can't kill you,'" she told jurors. Peterson then threw a garage opener to the ground and left.

Shortly after Kernc finished telling that story, Patton turned and asked, "Did she tell you she wanted to get an order of protection?"

The defense objected to Patton's question, and the judge asked jurors to leave the room.

Savio hadn't asked for such an order at that point and the judge would have regarded the subject as creating a bias against Peterson, a Chicago defense attorney not connected with the case explained.

"It can affect a jury unfairly because it's a signal that he is a bad, violent person," attorney Gal Pissetzky explained,

Defense attorneys asked not only for a mistrial but for a "mistrial with prejudice," meaning Peterson could be set free and never be charged again with Savio's murder. Declaring a mistrial with prejudice is a rare judicial step. Burmila could also declare a more standard mistrial, meaning Peterson would be retried later.

The judge could also instruct the jury to disregard what the prosecutor said. If he takes that route, it could still signal to jurors that prosecutors have — again — messed up, potentially influencing their decision during deliberations.

Defense attorney Joel Brodsky cited other times prosecutors broached prohibited subjects, including when Glasgow — just 10 minutes into his opening statement — referred to an accusation that Peterson once tried to hire a hit man.

"It is an avalanche of prejudicial, illegal evidence that is polluting this jury," he said. "To have this many ... errors, how can the defendant get a fair trial?"

Peterson is a suspect in the disappearance of his fourth wife, who is presumed dead but whose body has never been found. He has never been charged in that case.

Defense attorneys not connected to the Peterson case expressed disbelief that prosecutors have made so many mistakes.

"It's, at minimum, sloppy," said Sam Adam, Jr., who represented imprisoned former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich at his first corruption trial.

Follow Michael Tarm at www.twitter.com/mtarm

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