CHICAGO (CBS) — The Drew Peterson murder trial – one of the biggest trials ever to take place in Will County – might not begin at the courthouse in Joliet.
Instead, CBS 2’s Mike Puccinelli reports the trial could start at the AISP Local 150 training center – a nondescript union hall located more than 15 miles away in Wilmington.
Drew Peterson mugged for the cameras while being led into the Will County Courthouse in 2009, after his arrest for allegedly killing his third wife, Kathleen Savio.
It’s an image sources said we won’t see when his trial begins this summer. For the most part, he will be kept out of sight of the public, and the media.
Jury consultant Alan Tuerkheimer said it’s important so “jurors have the evidence, and they have the witnesses in the case, and they’re not really focused on just him.”
When Peterson’s murder trial does begin after years of delay, a union hall in Wilmington will become a temporary hall of justice. If plans now under consideration are approved, it could become the place where hundreds of potential jurors go to be questioned.
Questioning potential jurors in a remote site has never been done before in Will County.
Peterson defense attorney Steve Greenberg said he doesn’t think now is a good time to start.
“This case should be handled like every other case. I think the jurors should be questioned like jurors are in every other case,” Greenberg said.
But Tuerkheimer said, in what’s expected to be the most high-profile case in the history of Will County, it might make sense.
“The judge just wants the jurors far-removed from the center of everything. He wants the jurors to know that ‘Hey, this is really serious. You’re going to be away from it all,’” Tuerkheimer said.
In order for the union hall to be used for jury selection, the Administrative Office of the Illinois Courts must first sign off on the plan. Then the chief judge in Will County would have to declare the building a temporary court facility, before the questioning of potential jurors could legally take place.
“I think that it should be done in the courthouse, where jurors are normally questioned,” Greenberg said.
Defense team members believe the jury might be sequestered during what’s expected to be a four- to six-week trial. They don’t want that, because they fear the jurors will blame Peterson for keeping them away from their families.
Defense attorney Joe Lopez said he is hearing rumblings that court officials might attempt to select an anonymous jury, whose names would be withheld from the media, as well as the prosecution and defense teams.
He said that appears to be “another special Drew rule.” He went on to say that he believes it might be unconstitutional.