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The former Bolingbrook, Ill., cop who was charged with the drowning death of his third wife has been found guilty of first-degree murder, The Chicago Tribune’s Stacy St. Clair tweeted from the courtroom.Drew Peterson was on trial for the death Kathleen Savio, his third wife.
And he is suspected, but not charged, in the disappearance of his fourth wife Stacy Peterson.
Peterson showed no emotion as the verdict was read, according to St. Clair.
He faces up to 60 years behind bars, CNN reported. There is no death penalty in Illinois.
His sentencing is scheduled for Nov. 26, Reuters’ Matthew Keys tweeted.
“There’s going to be an appeal,” Peterson’s attorney Joel Brodsky said outside the courthouse, adding there are “several world-class appellate lawyers” chomping at the bit to take the case.
ABC7 Chicago ran a livestream of the scene outside the courthouse following the verdict.
Brodsky blamed the verdict on the fact that an unprecedented amount of hearsay evidence was allowed in the courtroom and his client’s unpopularity with the community.
“It’s a dark day in America when someone can be convicted on hearsay evidence,” defence attorney Joe Lopez said.
“The whole world has been waiting for Drew Peterson to be convicted,” Lopez said. “They hate him.”
The jury declined to comment to the media following the verdict but released a statement saying they believe they reached a “just” verdict.
“Drew is absolutely fine,” Brodsky said, adding that as long as his kids are fine, Drew will be fine.
“Savio, she died of a household accident,” Brodksy said. “There’s no question about it.”
The entire team of defence attorneys took issue with the cheering crowds gathered outside the courthouse, saying their client didn’t stand much of a chance in such an environment.
“The defendent in this case was a coward and a bully,” Will County State’s Attorney James Glasgow said outside the courthouse. “He was a thug. But we took him on now, and he lost.”
When asked whether he would charge Drew Peterson in Stacy Peterson’s disappearance, Glasgow said his office would “aggressively review that case with an eye towards potentially charging him.”
“But I’ve never seen a community come together on a case like they have on this one,” Glascow said, adding America has a serious problem with violence against women.
Following the verdict, Savio’s family and supports were seen “hugging, crying outside courtroom,” St. Clair tweeted.
Outside the courtroom, Savio’s brother was choking back tears as he said the verdict was better than a White Sox World Series win, according to a live feed from FOX Chicago.
“We wish and pray that Kathleen’s sons never forget their mum,” Nick Savio said, adding “Stacy, you are now next.”
Savio was always scared of Peterson, her former teacher Penny Leupold told Business Insider.
Leupold, a retired nursing instructor at Joliet Junior College who is my aunt, said Savio was “always very nervous.”
Kathleen’s mother added that they now know “all the young women in [Peterson’s] demographic” are now safe.
Savio supporters sang “Drew the Lady Killer” outside the courtroom to the tune of “Puff the Magic Dragon,” St. Clair tweeted.
Prosecutors relied heavily on “statements from the grave,” meaning statements Savio and Stacy Peterson made before their death and disappearance, respectively.
During the trial a man who used to work with Peterson claimed the former Bolingbrook, Ill., cop offered him $25,000 to find someone to kill Savio.
“Game over Drew,” Stacy Peterson’s sister said after the verdict was announced, adding that she hopes someone will now come forward about Stacy’s disappearance.
The jury deliberated for 13 hours and 52 minutes before announcing a verdict, ABC7 Chicago’s Kara Oko tweeted.
Oko and others speculated there may have been a hung jury after jurors asked the judge what unanimous meant.
“The same thing as when you all agree to wear the same clothing.” the judge answered, according to ABC7 Chicago’s Ben Bradley.
In the end it was probably the “statements from the grave” that made the case. Judge Stephen White, a judge once involved in the case, told St. Clair it was Stacy’s statements that led to the conviction.
“She got the last word,” White told St. Clair.
Legal experts told ABC7 Chicago’s Jessica D’Onofrio they think Peterson’s attorneys, who were known for their attitude during the case, “rubbed jurors the wrong way.”
Peterson was taken back to Will County Jail after the verdict was announced.
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