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JOLIET, Ill. (CBS) – Drew Peterson’s defense team has rested its case, after Peterson informed the judge he won’t be testifying on his own behalf.
Peterson’s defense attorneys finished presenting their case after calling several witnesses over the past three days to counter prosecutors’ claims Peterson killed his third wife, Kathleen Savio, in 2004.
Drew Peterson stood in the courtroom Wednesday afternoon and told the judge he would not be testifying in his own defense.
Prosecutors could recall some witnesses or call new rebuttal witnesses to counter the defense’s case before closing arguments are presented.
LISTEN: WBBM Newsradio’s Mike Krauser Reports
Earlier Wedensday, a long-anticipated defense witness might have helped the prosecution’s case when he told jurors Peterson’s fourth wife, Stacy, had said Drew killed Savio.
CBS 2′s Mike Puccinelli reports divorce lawyer Harry Smith was called as a witness for the defense, but calling the attorney who had consulted with Stacy Peterson put Drew’s missing fourth wife front and center at his murder trial on Wednesday. It’s something that hadn’t happened in the previous 18 days of testimony.
Smith, who represented Kathleen Savio in divorce proceedings against Drew Peterson, also consulted for Stacy Peterson.
After several days of speculation that Smith would testify for the prosecution, WBBM Newsradio’s Mike Krauser reports Smith finally took the stand for the defense, and his testimony was explosive, and did not appear to go as planned.
Smith testified about a phone conversation with Stacy Peterson. Smith said, “She wanted to know if, in my opinion, if the fact that he killed Kathy could be used against him in the divorce proceeding.”
Smith testified he told Stacy doing so could lead to her being charged with concealing a homicide.
Drew Peterson’s lawyers had said Smith would testify that Stacy had asked him about getting more money in her own divorce from Drew by threatening to tell police what she knew about Savio’s death.
At one point while Smith was on the stand, the jury was sent out of the courtroom, and the judge said Smith was looking at the prosecution table before every answer he provided.
When Smith testified Stacy told him Drew actually killed Savio, defense attorneys confronted him with testimony from pretrial hearings that they said contradict that claim.
The defense said he committed perjury. Peterson attorney Steve Greenberg said Smith has testified several times, and never said Stacy told him Peterson actually killed Savio.
Defense attorney Joel Brodsky confronted Smith with previous testimony that Stacy asked him “could we get more money if we threaten to tell the police how he killed Kathy?”
Outside court, Smith told reporters, “I thought that she was probably in a much more precarious situation than she was acting as she was.”
Less than two days after that conversation, Stacy disappeared. That’s when Smith called Illinois State Police.
“I think the worst at that point,” he said.
Smith said Stacy seemed to think her knowledge of what happened with Kathleen Savio could have given her leverage in her own divorce case against Drew.
Smith also testified that Stacy told him Drew was enraged, because he believed she told his son Tom that Drew had killed his mother, Kathleen Savio.
Smith didn’t know if Stacy had, in fact, ever said anything to Tom.
Drew Peterson is accused of killing his third wife, Kathleen Savio, in her bathtub in 2004. Their son, Tom, also testified on Wednesday.
Tom, 19, took the stand Wednesday afternoon to tell jurors he does not believe his father killed his mother.
Defense attorneys asked Tom, “have you ever told anyone you suspected your dad killed your mom?”
Tom said “No, I haven’t.”
He described his dad as a “good guy, very fun, very happy-go-lucky. “
Tom was 11 years old when his mother died. He said of his father “I’ve never seen him so shaken up. It was very troubling to see.”
He said he was testifying voluntarily, “Because I believe that my dad is innocent.”
Tom Peterson was the last defense witness before the defense team rested its case.