Drew Peterson probably did himself a disservice to take on the public limelight. He did not have a personality that was well received and he only added to media attention. The odd coincidence of his 3d wife dying by accident and then a 4th wife at large was too suspicious for many people to accept. However, in high profile cases, there is a greater need to be proactive and defend oneself in the public. Suspects often can be convicted in the media well before they ever go to trial. A lot of innuendo and rumor while not admissible in a court of law shape perspective jurors opinions. Public opinion can also pressure the state's attorney's office to file charges or not, such as in the George Zimmerman case. I personally know well how much influence the media can have.
After seven people were brutally murdered at a Palatine Brown's Chicken and Pasta Restaurant in January 1993, enormous pressure was put on police and prosecutors to solve the crime. The lies of my former roommate and his wife implicating me were incredulous but too good to pass up. I was quickly arrested and charged not with the mass murder, but a murder in Barrington the state's attorney's office thought would be easier to prove. The media then began a vicious campaign of character assassination. I was reported to have committed the Brown's Chicken massacre in Palatine and was the subject of various other nefarious innuendo. When Rose Faraci finally admitted the stories she and her husband told authorities were not true, it did not matter. I was already tried and convicted in the eyes of the public. At this point, there was no way prosecutors were going to admit to have made a mistake and drop the charges against me. Jurors who may have sought to be fair and base their decisions on the evidence, I cannot but believe were to some degree motivated by the pervasive negative, inflammatory and false reporting. I wonder if I or my attorneys had engaged the media instead of being silent, it may have altered public perceptions which once formed are extremely difficult to change.
The similarities remind me not only of my own case, but that of a man recently released from prison on twisted science. James Kluppelberg was convicted of an arson mass murder in the late 1980's. Originally, the fire and resulting deaths were determined to be an accident by Chicago police. However, when a former friend of Kluppelberg's got into trouble with the law and fabricated a story implicating Kluppelberg years later, the conclusions of crime scene investigators changed. The fire was no longer an accident but an arson and the deaths were now homicides. James Kluppelberg spent over two decades of his life in prison before the former friend recanted his lies and the fire was once again determined to be an accident. With Drew Peterson there is no one facing criminal charges trying to make a deal for himself but there was just as questionable hearsay statements incriminating Peterson.
Many legal experts have already weighed in on the issue and the vast majority agree. The only attorney I have seen interviewed who expressed disagreement was Richard Kling of Chicago-Kent College of Law. He said that exceptions to hearsay have been allowed since the 1970's. However, those rare exceptions deal with a person who is being taken to the emergency room after being stabbed or shot and tells someone before they die who attacked them. I see no correlation between these cases and the case of Drew Peterson. Even the Chicago metropolitan area public which seemed to loathe the defendant were polled on WGN news. A third of them believed the verdict will be overturned.
Yesterday, I watched various news programs about the Drew Peterson case and his conviction, even the tabloid television programs on Headline News hosted by Jane Valez and former prosecutor Nancy Grace. Both of the women were obviously slanted against Peterson. They sought to further sensationalize and appeal to viewers' emotions dismissing law and evidence. More of the two women's families were interviewed or excerpts were taken from earlier reporting. For example, Kathleen Savio's mother was repeatedly quoted or shown yelling to defense attorneys that they could now "go smoke cigars downstairs with the red man in the suit." The fact she could not even properly articulate her words only emphasized to me the incredible emotions involved. Nancy Grace had Joe Lopez, one of the Drew Peterson's attorneys on, but he was attacked and not allowed to speak. At one point, Grace turned off his microphone only to continue arguing the state's dubious case. She went over how cops were called for domestic disputes 17 times. However, half of these calls made by Kathleen Savio involved Drew Peterson not returning the children they shared custody of on time, and two resulted in Kathleen being charged with battery. There is no doubt there was a contentious divorce and a tumultuous relationship proceeding it, but this did not prove murder. Nor did a blue barrel being moved out of Peterson's home which people speculated may have contained Stacy's body. Stacy weighed a little over 100 pounds. I doubt Peterson would have needed help especially from that of Stacy's brother to move it. Nancy Grace claimed to "blow to bits" Lopez' arguments. She claimed to have "torpedoed" his explanations and they didn't make any sense. The Will County State's Attorney also said to jurors to use their common sense. However, this is only a ploy to argue a case which has no evidence. Instead, Glasgow, Grace, and others want people to speculate. Speculation has no place in the court room.
Initially, jurors did not want to speak to the media. However, eventually it was learned the original vote was 7 to 4 with one undecided. The jury continued to deliberate until there was only one holdout. His name was Ron Supalo and I saw him interviewed from his automobile by a local television news reporter. He was of particular interest to the media because the jury seemed to have been deadlocked when after 9 hours a note was sent to the judge asking what "unanimous" meant. In jury trials, all 12 jurors must unanimously agree to convict a defendant. Ron Supalo said he was the reason for the impasse. He did not believe the hearsay testimony was credible. However, apparently after being pressured by the rest of the group he finally gave in. He said the most incriminating evidence came from Kathleen's divorce attorney, Harry Smith, and eventually he was convinced this was enough to find Drew Peterson guilty of murder. Ironically, it was the defense who put the divorce attorney on the stand to attack the credibility of Kathleen. The defense team was in a conundrum about how to discredit the witness of a person not even there to question. Joel Brodsky gambled and seemingly he lost. I recall when my lead attorney gambled with my life as well by choosing not to contest the testimony of the interrogating officer who claimed I admitted being told by my roommate he was going to kill the victim, and then lending him my car. I knew it was a blunder immediately and had vehement arguments with Bill Von Hoene. He refused to listen to me and later when I heard Robert Lovick and other jurors say this is why they convicted me, I was greatly disheartened.
On the Jane Valez Show, the question was asked, "What is Drew going through now?" People on the program said he loves attention and being in solitary confinement at the Will County Jail will be miserable for him. I am an introverted nonsocial person, but even if I was a social extrovert like Peterson, I do not think solitary confinement until my sentencing hearing on November 26th would be unwanted nor do I think he will care about the hearing. Drew Peterson has been convicted of 1st degree murder and will spend the rest of his life in prison failing to win his appeals, regardless if he is sentenced to the minimum of 20 years or maximum of 60. Peterson is 58 years old, and even the minimum will be a protracted death sentence, but I am sure he realized he will be sentenced to 60 just as I knew I would get a harsh sentence. The Palatine massacre still hung over my head and with Peterson, all the innuendo and speculation of his involvement in Stacy's death will be admitted during the hearing. Peterson probably will want to be left alone and I am sure he will be furious with his attorney as well as despondent. Yes, he has a good chance on appeal, but he will soon be sent to prison to enjoy the same oppression and obnoxious criminal low lifes I do. He may have even arrested some here as a Bolingbrook police officer. I doubt he will be sent to Stateville and more than likely he will be placed in protective custody at Pontiac C.C.
I have spent most of this post defending Drew Peterson, but even I tend to believe he is guilty in one of the two murders. However, there is a big difference between me thinking or speculating he is guilty and him being proven beyond a reasonable doubt that he is. The evidence submitted against Peterson was insufficient to convict him. I have plenty of reasonable doubt about the testimony presented at his trial and this is all that matters. When a person looks beyond the evidence, the law, or does not hold the state to the burden it has, this is when innocent people are convicted. There is a reason for the threshold of evidence being set high and there is a reason the founders of America explicitly wrote in the constitution about prohibitions of hearsay and ex post facto laws. They knew of wide abuses in the past. America was supposed to be a country where individual rights and liberty were inalienable rights. Drew Peterson may be guilty, but it was not proven beyond a reasonable doubt and his conviction sets an unprecedented usurpation of the rights of everyone. America was a free country where liberty was valued, but it has become an oppressive, unjust, police state. Indeed, yesterday was a "dark day for justice."