Judge in Drew Peterson case considers mistrial

A furious Judge Edward Burmila sent jurors out of the courtroom before grilling prosecutor Kathleen Patton for allowing a witness to mention a bullet and leave the impression that Peterson left it in the witness' driveway.

M. Spencer Green/AP/File
In this 2009 photo, former Bolingbrook, Ill., police officer Drew Peterson arrives at the Will County Courthouse in Joliet, Ill., for his arraignment on charges of first-degree murder in the 2004 death of his former wife Kathleen Savio.

The judge in Drew Peterson's murder trial considered Wednesday whether to declare a mistrial after blasting prosecutors for a second time in less than two days for bringing up information he said could prejudice the jury against the former police officer.

A furious Judge Edward Burmila sent jurors out of the courtroom before grilling prosecutor Kathleen Patton for allowing a witness to mention a bullet and leave the impression that Peterson left it in the witness' driveway. Burmila then took a recess to allow defense attorneys to file a motion for mistrial.

"It can't be reckless, it is intentional," Peterson attorney Steve Greenberg told the judge when court reconvened, arguing that prosecutors violated court orders.

Peterson was charged in the 2004 death of his third wife, Kathleen Savio, after his fourth wife, Stacy Peterson, went missing in 2007. Drew Peterson is suspected in her disappearance but hasn't been charged.

Patton said prosecutors didn't deliberately try to get the witness, former Peterson neighbor Thomas Pontarelli, to mention that he found the .38-caliber bullet on his driveway.

The judge appeared close to declaring a mistrial Tuesday after a prosecutor began to discuss an allegation that Peterson once tried to hire a hit man.

Prosecutors contend Peterson killed Savio and tried to make it look like an accident. Defense attorney Joel Brodsky told jurors repeatedly during his opening statement that there was no evidence Savio's death was anything but a tragic accident.

Peterson's real-life drama inspired a TV movie starring Rob Lowe, and many speculated whether the former police sergeant used his law-enforcement expertise to get away with Savio's murder and make 23-year-old Stacy Peterson vanish.

You've read  of  free articles. Subscribe to continue.

Dear Reader,

About a year ago, I happened upon this statement about the Monitor in the Harvard Business Review – under the charming heading of “do things that don’t interest you”:

“Many things that end up” being meaningful, writes social scientist Joseph Grenny, “have come from conference workshops, articles, or online videos that began as a chore and ended with an insight. My work in Kenya, for example, was heavily influenced by a Christian Science Monitor article I had forced myself to read 10 years earlier. Sometimes, we call things ‘boring’ simply because they lie outside the box we are currently in.”

If you were to come up with a punchline to a joke about the Monitor, that would probably be it. We’re seen as being global, fair, insightful, and perhaps a bit too earnest. We’re the bran muffin of journalism.

But you know what? We change lives. And I’m going to argue that we change lives precisely because we force open that too-small box that most human beings think they live in.

The Monitor is a peculiar little publication that’s hard for the world to figure out. We’re run by a church, but we’re not only for church members and we’re not about converting people. We’re known as being fair even as the world becomes as polarized as at any time since the newspaper’s founding in 1908.

We have a mission beyond circulation, we want to bridge divides. We’re about kicking down the door of thought everywhere and saying, “You are bigger and more capable than you realize. And we can prove it.”

If you’re looking for bran muffin journalism, you can subscribe to the Monitor for $15. You’ll get the Monitor Weekly magazine, the Monitor Daily email, and unlimited access to CSMonitor.com.