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Drew Peterson To Attend First Court Hearing In Years

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Drew Peterson

Former Bolingbrook police sergeant Drew Peterson arrives at the Will County Courthouse in Joliet, Ill., Friday, May 8, 2009, for his arraignment on charges of first-degree murder in the 2004 death of his former wife Kathleen Savio. (M. Spender Green/AP)

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JOLIET, Ill. (CBS) – For the first time in a couple of years, accused murderer Drew Peterson will leave jail on Friday for a court appearance.

Peterson, a former Bolingbrook police officer, has been in jail for three years, since he was charged with killing his third wife, Kathleen Savio.

WBBM Newsradio’s Regine Schlesinger reports Peterson will attend a status hearing in the case at the Will County Courthouse on Friday.

LISTEN: WBBM Newsradio’s Regine Schlesinger reports

His attorney, Joel Brodsky, said it will be a rare and brief outing from jail for Peterson. His case had been stuck in an appeals court fight for nearly two years until now.

“He gets to get driven a block-and-a-half from the jail,” he said. “He gets to enjoy his block-and-a-half trip in the back of the van.”

Peterson has been held in protective custody while in jail, meaning he has no contact with other prisoners. He can only visit with immediate family members and his attorneys.

Not much substantive is expected to come out of Friday’s hearing, which will deal mainly with pretrial motions, attorneys’ schedules, and assigning a new trial judge, after the original trial judge retired.

It could be another week or more until an actual trial date is set – possibly for June or July.

“He’ll be happy just to see the process rolling again,” Brodsky said of Peterson.

The case has been tied up in appeals courts for two years, over legal wrangling about hearsay evidence prosecutors want to use at trial.

It has been sent back to the trial court, after Peterson’s defense attorneys dropped their appeal regarding hearsay evidence, although they will make another effort before the trial judge to have some of that evidence thrown out.

Prosecutors have sought to use 14 statements made by Savio and Peterson’s missing fourth wife, Stacy Peterson, against him at trial. A trial judge allowed six of them, but tossed out eight of those statements. A recent Illinois Appellate Court ruling put them back in play.

Brodsky has said he can still challenge all of the statements on grounds that have not been raised in court yet.

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.

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