Drew Peterson, accused of killing wife, takes active role in jury selection process
CHICAGO (MCT) — Drew Peterson carefully appraised each prospective juror who took a seat in a Joliet, Ill., courtroom Tuesday, then later shook his head yes or no when his attorneys asked whether to fight to keep them.
He remained closely involved as the final jurors were selected, setting the stage for opening statements and testimony in his murder trial next week.
Though Peterson’s defense team had publicly aired concerns early on over being able to find an impartial jury for the highly publicized case, the 12 jurors and four alternates were selected from the first 47 candidates, part of an unusually large pool of more than 200 convened three years ago.
Peterson, a former Bolingbrook, Ill., police sergeant, is charged with the 2004 drowning death of his third wife, Kathleen Savio. He is the sole suspect in the 2007 disappearance of his fourth wife, Stacy, but has not been charged.
As he did on Monday during the first day of jury selection, Peterson stood to greet the second pool Tuesday. He wore a navy sports jacket, a plaid tie and — after the proceedings were briefly delayed so he could get a pair that fit — gray pants.
“Good day, ladies and gentlemen,” Peterson said after being introduced by his attorney Joel Brodsky. “As they said, my name is Drew Peterson. I’m the defendant in this case. I’d like to take this time to thank you for your time and wish you all a nice day.”
Attorneys on both sides said they were happy with the jurors selected to hear the trial, which is scheduled to begin with opening statements Tuesday.
“We’re anxious to get the trial started,” said Will County State’s Attorney James Glasgow. “We’ve finally come to the point where we’ve all been aiming for.”
Peterson will spend the next few days meeting with the defense team, reviewing witnesses and testimony, Brodsky said.
“He’s all business now. He’s getting ready. The quipping is over,” Brodsky said. “When it’s time to be funny, he’s funny. When it’s time to be serious, he’s serious.”
The jury includes a divorced secretary who writes poetry, a semi-retired crossing guard who likes reading mystery novels, a man who sold his construction company and enjoys flying, and a college student who lives with his parents.
Nancy Marder, a Chicago-Kent College of Law professor and author of “The Jury Process,” said jurors tend to obey instructions to base their decisions on the evidence presented during the trial, and members of the public often don’t follow news stories in great detail.
“Even in a high-profile case, you can find people who haven’t been saturated by the coverage,” she said.
The tension between Glasgow and defense attorney Steve Greenberg flared up again at day’s end during a discussion that started over how objections would be handled at trial.
Glasgow became annoyed when Greenberg mispronounced his last name and then asked Judge Edward Burmila to ban Glasgow from emphasizing his role as the county’s chief prosecutor during opening arguments.
The state’s attorney is appearing in court as the lead attorney on the case.
“Mr. Glasgow can say, ‘I am the state’s attorney of Will County,’” Greenberg said. “Anything beyond that, Judge, I think is improper.”
Glasgow responded by saying he wouldn’t engage in “this rambling nonsense” that had happened in opening statements Greenberg cited elsewhere.
“I’m not going to introduce myself (that way),” he told the judge. “I’ll say, ‘I’m Jim Glasgow.’”
Burmila said he wasn’t going to issue a “road map” for either side to use in opening remarks and tried to get the attorneys to behave a little more politely.
“We’re done commenting on each others’ comments,” he told the attorneys.
Some faces that were present for the first trial, which was set to start in 2010 before lengthy appeals process over hearsay statements, were back in court observing Tuesday. Andrew Abood, a former Peterson defense attorney, and Domenica Osterberger, a former Peterson prosecutor who is now a Will County judge, sat in the courtroom gallery.