Ex-Illinois police officer, convicted of wife’s murder, on trial again
(Reuters) – Drew Peterson, a former Chicago-area police officer who is in prison for murdering his wife, went on trial on Monday on charges that he tried to hire someone in 2014 to kill the prosecutor who won his conviction.
Peterson, 62, is accused of trying to contract the killing of James Glasgow, the Will County prosecutor.
He allegedly sought a hit man from prison, where he is serving a 38-year sentence for the 2004 murder of Kathleen Savio, his third wife, a case that was made into a television movie starring Rob Lowe.
Peterson is charged with solicitation of murder, and an eight-man, four-women jury was selected on Friday, with two alternates, for the trial before Randolph County Circuit Judge Richard Brown. Peterson has pleaded not guilty.
The case centers on recordings made at the maximum security Menard Correctional Center in southern Illinois where Peterson is serving his sentence and where a fellow inmate taped him allegedly saying he wanted to hire someone to kill Glasgow.
The inmate, Antonio Smith, testified that Smith told him he would pay $10,000 for the murder and also that Peterson admitted to him that he killed his missing fourth wife, Stacy Peterson, the Chicago Tribune reported.
Peterson’s defense attorney Lucas Liefer argued in his opening statement that the recordings are half unintelligible and half nonsensical prison talk, the newspaper reported.
Prosecutors say Peterson was obsessed with getting revenge on Glasgow after the former police officer was found guilty of murdering Savio.
“Anger, hatred, revenge. Ladies and gentlemen, that is why we are here,” State’s Attorney Jeremy Walker told jurors, according to the Sun-Times newspaper online.
Glasgow was called as a witness to testify about a diatribe that Peterson made against him during his 2013 sentencing hearing for the murder of Savio, the Sun-Times reported.
Peterson was a long-serving police officer from the Chicago suburb of Bolingbrook in northern Illinois, but his current trial is in Randolph County where the Menard prison is located.
His defense attorney, Liefer, did not immediately return a phone call requesting comment.
Savio was found dead in a bathtub in 2004, during a contentious divorce. Her death was at first ruled accidental, but suspicions were raised when Peterson’s fourth wife disappeared in 2007.
(Reporting by Fiona Ortiz; Editing by Cynthia Osterman)