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Peterson Drops Appeal Of Hearsay Evidence, Seeks To Start Trial

Drew Peterson (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)

Drew Peterson (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)

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JOLIET, Ill. (CBS) – Drew Peterson is ending a protracted legal battle over hearsay evidence that prosecutors want to use at the former Bolingbrook police officer’s upcoming murder trial.

Peterson’s attorney Joel Brodsky has dropped Peterson’s appeal of a ruling allowing prosecutors to use previously excluded hearsay statements from his third wife, Kathleen Savio, and his fourth wife, Stacy Peterson.

Brodsky is seeking to have Peterson’s murder trial begin as soon as possible. He has asked the Illinois Appellate Court to send the matter back to the trial court.

“They appealed three rulings by Judge (Stephen) White. We won two, and the Appellate Court confirmed us on those two,” Brodsky said. “So, right now, we’re batting two-out-of-three as far as evidentiary rulings.”

LISTEN: WBBM Newsradio’s Regine Schlesinger reports

Brodsky is dropping the appeals court fight over that third ruling so the case can go to trial after more than two years of delays.

“It’s been long enough just sitting on our hands. You know, Drew Peterson’s sitting locked up in a small cell the size of a walk-in closet for two years,” Brodsky said.

But Brodsky isn’t giving up altogether on his fight to keep those hearsay statements out of the trial. He said he can continue to challenge the hearsay statements before trial, using arguments he has yet to present to the judge.

Will County prosecutors say their trial team is ready to go and the trial could start as early as late May.

Brodsky said “we’re gonna be ready as soon as we can.”

He said he still has some pretrial motions to file, but if the trial judge grants hearings on those matters soon, they should be ready for trial in short order.

Peterson, 58, is charged with killing Savio in 2004. Her death was originally ruled an accidental drowning, but authorities reopened the case after Stacy Peterson vanished in 2007, and a new autopsy ruled Savio’s death was a homicide.

Peterson is accused of killing Savio to prevent her from testifying in a divorce proceeding.

Prosecutors have argued Peterson killed Stacy to prevent her from testifying against him about Savio’s murder. He has not been charged in Stacy’s disappearance or death, however.

He has denied wrongdoing in both cases.

The Savio case rests almost entirely on the new autopsy report and 14 statements that prosecutors say would allow Savio and Stacy to testify from the grave. There is no physical evidence, other than the new autopsy report, and no witnesses to testify that Peterson killed Savio.

In the statements, both women speak about feeling threatened by Drew Peterson.

In 2010, Judge White ruled prosecutors could use six hearsay statements against Peterson, but threw out eight others. A recent Appellate Court ruling put those statements back in play.

White has since retired.