CHESTER, Ill. (AP) - The credibility of a wire-wearing informant enlisted to ensnare Drew Peterson in a murder-for-hire plot was challenged on the fourth day of a trial that could lead to another 60 years in prison for the former suburban Chicago police officer convicted of killing his ex-wife.
Court-appointed attorney Lucas Liefer cited several letters in which informant Antonio Smith — a Chicago gang member nicknamed "Beast" who's serving a 40-year sentence for attempted murder and other crimes — discussed with another inmate how he'd benefit from setting up Peterson, the Chicago Tribune reported Thursday.
Reading from a letter he wrote while cooperating in a different investigation of a southern Illinois prison guard, Smith described how a "confidential source or informant will say anything to benefit himself."
Smith, 25, told the former cellmate he had reached deals with prosecutors to get released early from prison, along with $110,000. He instead received $3,200 from the FBI to replace property lost after he was transferred to the federal prison system following his involvement with Peterson.
Peterson, 62, is on trial for allegedly seeking retaliation against Will County State's Attorney James Glasgow following a 2012 conviction in his third wife's Kathleen Savio's death eight years earlier.
Savio's death was initially classified as accidental. The case was reopened by Glasgow after the 2007 disappearance of Stacy Peterson, his 23-year-old fourth wife. Peterson was never charged in her disappearance but told Smith he worried that Glasgow would eventually do so.
Wiretapped conversations played in court earlier this week show Peterson planning a prison celebration after believing he had arranged for Smith's uncle to kill Glasgow. He's pleaded not guilty to charges in the murder-to-hire plot.
Peterson also discussed his interest to move to Mexico and sell drugs after his release from prison, calculating that Glasgow's death would lead to his first-degree murder conviction being reversed on appeal. The case is currently before the Illinois Supreme Court.
The secret recordings, made over three days in November 2014, include no direct mentions by Peterson of trying to kill Glasgow, who testified on Monday at the trial's start. Liefer, who is serving as a public defender, has dismissed the recordings as fanciful prison boasts.