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article imageAfter courtroom outburst, Drew Peterson gets 38 years in prison

By Yukio Strachan     Feb 22, 2013 in Crime
Joliet - "I did not kill Kathleen," former Bolingbrook police sergeant Drew Peterson screamed from the stand Thursday just before the convicted killer received a 38-year prison sentence in the murder of his third wife, Kathleen Savio.
Saying Peterson showed "no remorse," Judge Edward Burmila handed down the 38 year sentence, saying Peterson will get credit for time served already, but must serve all of it, according to ABC7 Chicago.
The ruling came just a couple hours after Burmila denied a motion by defense attorneys to give the former cop a new trial because of purported mistakes by his former lawyer, NBC Chicago reported. It essentially means Peterson will spend the rest of his life in custody.
“His life is over as we know it,” Savio’s sister, Anna Doman, said of the 59-year-old convicted murderer.
Peterson sat calmly and quietly as Burmila handed down the sentence. It was stark contrast to the drama just minutes earlier, the Chicago Sun-Times writes.
Before his sentencing, ABC7 reported, Peterson took the stand Thursday and spoke for about 40 minutes. “Good day, my name is Drew Peterson," he calmly said.
Peterson told the court he was forced to sit silent during his entire trial. "I hope I don’t aggravate the situation,” he said, according to the Chicago news channel.
The court soon found out what he meant. He leaned forward into the courtroom microphone, looked directly at the Savio family, and shouted “I DID NOT KILL KATHLEEN!” emphasizing each of the five words, Chicago's Daily Herald writes.
Without missing a beat, Savio's sister, Susan Doman shot back, "Yes, you did! You liar!"
The judge ordered sheriff's deputies to remove her from the courtroom.
Judge Burmila warned him against any more outbursts. Peterson apologized to the judge saying he must have been whoozy. He told the judge that the state police set him up, according to WGN-TV Chicago.
After starting his statement with the startling scream, Peterson went on for 30 more minutes,
saying, "I loved Kathy. She was a good mom, she kept a nice home" he said, tearing up. "She did not deserve to die. But she died in an accident."
Breaking down even more, Peterson seemed to wallow in self-pity, telling the judge, "I don't deserve this," and that "America should be outraged (by the injustice of his conviction), but nobody cares." His voice quivered and his hands were shaking as he reached for a glass of water, the Herald writes.
Peterson said Savio's family "ruined her life," and accused them of trying to ruin his.
"Mr. Glasgow, all aspects of my life have been destroyed," Peterson said to the Will County state's attorney. "I tell you that so you celebrate."
Other times, ABC7 states, Peterson — who didn’t testify at his 2012 trial — seethed:
He accused the prosecution of taking an "accident" and staging a homicide. He also accused prosecutors for what he called "the largest railroad job ever" and conducting the "most expensive investigation" in the county's history.
He went after the media for making him "a monster," but later said he takes "full responsibility for my relationship with the media." And he complained of false police reports, “rumors, gossip, outrageous lies and most importantly, unreliable hearsay.”
"Hearsay is a scary thing," Peterson told the court. "It requires no proof of truth. Anything can be said and no one is accountable."
The hearsay law, dubbed "Drew Peterson Law" passed in the Illinois General Assembly in July 2009. It allows hearsay to be admitted as evidence in cases where prosecutors believe the victim was killed specifically to prevent them from testifying, according to NBC Chicago.
In this case, the hearsay included a friend testifying that Savio told her Peterson once put a knife to her throat and warned her, "I could kill you and make it look like an accident."
Just before leaving the stand, Peterson once again spoke to Will County State’s Attorney James Glasgow. He challenged Glasgow to look him in the eyes.
Glasgow, who had been taking notes, laid down his pen, folded his arms and looked straight back at Peterson, the Daily Herald reported.
"Never forget my face. Never forget what you've done," Peterson said. "I don't deserve this."
Glasgow later told reporters about that moment, "I was thinking, `You're a coldblooded murderer, and I'll stare you down until I die."'
"We all had an opportunity to see a psychopath reveal himself in open court," Glasgow added. "That shrill ... screech. ... That's the guy that killed Kathy."
Steve Greenberg, one of his defense lawyers had a different take, “I think that he has, moreso than any of us, a lot of frustrations,” he said.
It will be nine years next week since the 40-year-old Kathleen Savio was found dead in the dry bathtub of her Bolingbrook home on March 1, 2004. She was discovered there by neighbors led to the scene by Savio’s estranged cop husband, Peterson, who had left her to start a new life with his fourth wife, Stacy.
Savio's 2004 bathtub murder was originally ruled an accident, but the case was reopened in 2007 when Peterson's fourth wife, Stacy, vanished. Stacy Peterson is still missing, and Drew Peterson is considered a suspect, but has not been charged in her disappearance, ABC7 states.
Savio's family gave impact statements.
“I can hardly stand the pain at times,” said Sue Doman, one of Savio’s sisters, during the sentencing. “The thought of the last night of her life will always be with me.”
"One of the hardest things for me is knowing the pain and fear that Kathleen must have suffered at the time of her murder," Doman said, according to NBC Chicago. "The horror and betrayal she must have felt when she realized that someone she had trusted and loved more than anything was actually killing her. "
Henry Savio said Peterson terrorized his sister, brutalized her and drowned her.
"I will be mending my family, including my family's relationship with Kitty's children, while he is rotting in jail for the rest of his life," he said, according to NBC Chicago. "While he is in jail, I hope that Kitty is what he sees every night before he sleeps and I hope that she is haunting him in his dreams."
The grave of Kathleen Savio
The grave of Kathleen Savio
Screen Capture
Peterson faced a maximum of 60 years. Prosecutors had asked for the sentence to be in the "higher range" because the former Bolingbrook police sergeant violated the public trust.
Peterson attorney Joe Lopez had asked for a lesser sentence.
“Even the minimum sentence puts him at the end of the spectrum of his life,” said Peterson attorney Joe Lopez, according to ABC7.
That thought pleased Savio’s brother.
“Drew Peterson took Kathleen’s future,” Savio said. “And now she has taken his.”
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