Juror: ‘Hearsay’ Evidence Sealed Case Against Drew Peterson
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CHICAGO (CBS) – A juror in the Drew Peterson murder trial says he was the lone holdout until he reconsidered compelling “hearsay” evidence bolstering the case that the former police sergeant murdered his third wife.
Ron Supalo Jr., a postal worker from Bolingbrook, was a member of the seven-man, five-woman jury that deliberated Wednesday and into Thursday afternoon before finding Peterson guilty of murder in the 2004 death of Kathleen Savio.
Supalo says when jurors took a poll early in their deliberations, seven said Peterson was guilty, while four, including himself, voted for a “not guilty” verdict; one was undecided. By the time panel members went home Wednesday night, he said he was the only juror who was not voting to convict Peterson.
“I wanted to sleep on it,” Supalo said.
He said he reconsidered the testimony of two witnesses. Particularly “compelling,” he said, were comments from the Rev. Neil Schori.
Schori told jurors Peterson’s now-missing fourth wife, Stacy, had told him Drew Peterson directed her to lie to police about his whereabouts when Savio died.
Supalo also credits the testimony of divorce attorney Harry Smith, who said Stacy Peterson told him her husband had killed Savio.
Savio’s death was originally ruled accidental, but Stacy Peterson’s 2007 disappearance prompted investigators to reopen the case and to later file charges against Drew Peterson, who retired as a Bolingbrook police sergeant.
The notoriety of the case influenced lawmakers to pass a special law allowing “beyond the grave” testimony in some circumstances. Peterson trial Judge Edward Burmila had to weigh what testimony to allow jurors to hear, over the objections of defense attorneys.
“It’s a decision I think I can live with,” Supalo said of the guilty verdict.
The jury sometimes dressed in coordinated fashion, baffling courtroom observers and prosecutors and defense attorneys. Supalo stressed that panel members were not making any statements.
“We were not disrespectful. We were not sending any kind of message,” he said.