CHESTER, Ill (FOX 32 News) - Former Bolingbrook Police Sergeant Drew Peterson goes on trial Monday morning on charges he tried to hire someone to kill the prosecutor who sent him to prison.
Peterson was convicted in 2012 for the murder of his third wife Kathleen Savio and sentenced to 38 years in prison. He is suspected in the death of his fourth wife Stacy Peterson who disappeared in 2007. Her body has never been found.
Peterson was charged in January 2015 with solicitation of murder and solicitation of murder for hire. Prosecutors allege that from his prison cell at the Menard Correctional Center in downstate Chester, Drew Peterson tried to find a way to hire a hit man to kill Will County State’s Attorney James Glasgow whose office secured the conviction that sent Peterson to prison.
The charges alleged that between September 2013 and December 2014 Peterson discussed the plot with another inmate. Prosecutors obtained a judge's order to have Peterson's cell mate wear a body wire to secretly record conversations.
“It's my understanding there's no overt steps, there isn't anything that was taken to ensure that this would occur, there was no payments passed, there was no surveillance done of the intended target,” said Joseph Lopez, one of Peterson’s attorney from his murder trial.
“There are witnesses there that are going to testify about how these people conspired to try to get Drew to talk about this, and it appears to be some type of jail house plot,” Lopez said.
In court prosecutors revealed the transcripts of those recordings contain more than 100-thousand words.
“What I like about audio tapes and video tapes is what happened and what occurred is not subject to fabrication,” said attorney
Terry Ekl, a former prosecutor now in private practice.
“And unless there's a lot of ambiguity on those tapes I would much rather be prosecuting the case than defending it,” he said.
If Peterson's attorney cannot discredit the tapes or the prisoners who will testify in this trial, his defense may have to play off the reputation Drew Peterson established from the time his saga became a public obsession in 2007.
“One thing about Drew Peterson we know he's a jokester, he might have thought the whole thing was a joke, he might have went along with it,” Lopez said.
But after his 2012 conviction Peterson angrily lashed out in court said that Will County State's Attorney James Glasgow railroaded him.
Glasgow is expected to speak as part of the prosecution's opening statements to lay out the basis for Peterson's alleged motive. He also has been subpoenaed as a witness.
“To be acquitted on the case I think there would be a strong probability, again depending on that the tapes say, that Peterson would have to testify to try to explain them away. And if he did testify he's going to be impeached by his existing conviction for murder. So that would crush him in front of a jury,” Ekl said.
Peterson’s former cellmate will be called to testify and prosecutors are expected to play audiotapes to prove their case. Another inmate, who had alerted Peterson’s attorneys about a so-called plot to set him up.
A jury of eight men, four women and two women alternates was picked on Friday.