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JOLIET, Ill. (CBS) — Former Bolingbrook police Sgt. Drew Peterson is taking his case to the Illinois Supreme Court Tuesday, in an effort to get out of jail.
As CBS 2’s Mike Puccinelli reports, Peterson has been in custody at the Will County Jail for on $20 million bond more than two years, as he awaits trial on murder charges in the death of his third wife, Kathleen Savio.
He had been set to go on trial in July 2010, but the trial was postponed the day before jury selection was to begin due to an appeal by prosecutors seeking to allow hearsay statements. The Illinois Appellate ruled in July that prosecutors had filed their appeal late.
Prosecutors are now appealing that decision to the Illinois Supreme Court, which could take more than a year.
For that reason, defense attorneys say Peterson should be released now. If not, Peterson is being denied his right to a speedy trial because of the prosecution’s legal maneuvers, they argue.
“His constitutional right to a speedy trial is being violated. Nobody can deny that. The government can’t hold somebody locked up in solitary confinement for 13 months, when they don’t have enough evidence to convict them or take the case to trial,” said Peterson defense attorney Joel Brodsky. “So yes, he should be released, and his rights are being violated.”
Brodsky compared Peterson’s lengthy stay in jail without going to trial to the treatment a prisoner would receive under an authoritarian regime.
“Drew is a person who has been wrongfully charged, and he should not be held unless the state can prove – the government can prove – that he is guilty of some wrongdoing. It’s as clear as that. Now do we want to move to Iran where they don’t have such formalities? I suppose somebody who doesn’t like this can move there,” he said. “But I like the American system.”
Brodsky hopes in the next 30 days or so, the justices will consider the motion and order Peterson’s immediate release from jail.
Savio was found dead in the drained bathtub of her Bolingbrook home on March 1, 2004. Initially, the death was ruled an accidental drowning, but a second autopsy, performed in November 2007, found that the death was a homicide.
Peterson’s fourth wife, Stacy Peterson, disappeared in October 2007. Peterson has never been charged in her disappearance, but members of her family have suspected him from the beginning.
Peterson has maintained his fourth wife ran way with another man, but her family members say that is absurd, and that Stacy would never abandon her children.
Peterson’s bond was set at $20 million when he was arrested in May 2009, and he has been held in solitary confinement for 13 months.