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Peterson’s Attorneys Step Aside, Seek Public Appellate Defender

Drew Peterson's state prison mugshot (Illinois Department of Corrections)

Drew Peterson’s state prison mugshot (Illinois Department of Corrections)

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JOLIET, Ill. (CBS) – Convicted killer Drew Peterson’s lawyers have quietly withdrawn from the appeal of his murder conviction.

WBBM Newsradio’s Mike Krauser reports the Will County State’s Attorney’s office said Wednesday that Peterson’s lawyers have stepped down and asked the public appellate defender’s office to take over.

In an email, defense attorney Steve Greenberg denied that he’s quit the case. He said appearances will be filed by counsel after the appeal is perfected.

Attorneys David Peilet and Joseph Lopez could not be reached for comment on the move.

On the day Peterson was sentenced to 38 years in prison, his defense team said it was preparing for the appeal.

“He’s got some very viable issues. We all have some very viable issues. We’re putting our big boy pants on. We’re going to go with these issues, and we’re going to be back here. We’re confident of that,” Peilet said at the time.

Greenberg echoed the sentiment that an appeals court would grant Peterson a new trial.

“We’re done with this part of it, and we’ll move on to the appeal, and we’ll see you all in a couple years,” he said.

Peterson, 59, was convicted last September of killing his third wife, Kathleen Savio, in 2004.

Peterson’s defense team was not paid during the trial, and his lawyers were counting on the constant publicity of the case to drum up more business.

Any appeal could take a couple years to reach a judgment.

Peterson’s lawyers had asked Judge Edward Burmila for a new trial after his conviction, arguing former lead defense attorney Joel Brodsky committed mistakes that prevented Peterson from receiving a fair trial.

After replacing Brodsky with Peilet, Peterson’s defense team argued Brodsky should never have called Savio’s divorce lawyer, Harry Smith as a witness. Brodsky insists it was Peterson’s decision and the lawyers were all in agreement.

Smith had testified Peterson’s fourth wife, Stacy Peterson, told him Drew had killed Savio.

While Burmila agreed that Brodsky was not prepared for such a high-profile case, he noted Peterson had five other attorneys on his team during the trial. Brodsky said that was not what Burmilla said.

Peterson’s lawyers also argued hearsay testimony from Stacy’s pastor, Rev. Neil Schori, never should have been admitted at trial.