After deliberating for nearly 14 hours, jurors in the Drew Peterson murder case have rendered a guilty verdict. Peterson, a former Bolingbrook, IL. police sergeant, was on trial for the 2004 murder of his ex-wife, Kathleen Savio.
CNN reports Savio’s mother responded to the reading of the verdict by saying "Finally somebody heard Kathleen's cry. Twelve people did the right thing, oh thank God."
Savio was Peterson's third wife. She was found dead in her bathtub in 2004, and the death was initially ruled an accident. After the disappearance of Peterson’s 4th wife, Stacy Peterson, police decided to have Savio’s boy exhumed. The body was reexamined and the coroner changed the cause of death to homicide.
The jury issued a statement following the verdict. According to Chicago Tribune the statement said: “We have taken the responsibility bestowed on us by the court with a great deal of solemnity and diligence. After much deliberation, we have reached a decision we believe is just.”
Joel Brodsky, one of Peterson’s attorneys said "a conviction is the first step in a successful appeal."
The Huffington Post reports the defense team criticized the conviction because it was based on hearsay evidence, and said Savio's death was "a household accident."
Drew Peterson is arrested for the murder of Kathleen Savio
In 2009, the same year Peterson was arrested for Savio’s murder, an Illinois law was passed that directly connected to the case. The "hearsay law" allowed judges to admit hearsay evidence in first-degree murder cases if prosecutors can prove a victim's death was directly connected to a defendant's efforts to prevent them from testifying. This resulted in letters and recalled conversations where Savio said she worried Drew Peterson would kill her being admitted as evidence.
Savio’s brother, Nick Savio, read a statement following the verdict in which he called Peterson a "cold-blooded killer" and saying "everyone gets payback for what they have done to others. Stacy, you are now next for justice,” the AP reports.
The grave of Kathleen Savio
CNN is reporting Cassandra Cales, Stacy Peterson's sister, says she hopes the verdict will encourage someone to come forward "who knows something about my sister, (because) they feel safe to talk now." Although Cales says she is still trying to process the importance of the jury's decision, the first thought that ran through her mind after hearing the verdict was "Game over, Drew."