“Drew’s Law” Allows the Dead to Testify

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Joliet, IL—Witnesses will testify Tuesday on behalf of a deceased woman, under a new state law that will allow the admission of hearsay evidence in certain cases.

The law was passed in 2007 by the Illinois Legislature, and some suggest that it was specifically passed in order to convict Drew Peterson, the former police sergeant who is suspected of killing his third and fourth wives. Peterson was indicted and charged for the murder of his third wife, Kathleen Savio, in May 2009.

Savio, who was found dead in a waterless bathtub in March 2004, reportedly expressed fears about her husband’s intentions to friends and family members. Now prosecutors will call about 60 witnesses to the stand to testify about 15 hearsay statements. Will County Judge Stephen White will then rule as to whether or not the jury will be allowed to hear those statements during Peterson’s murder trial.

Some of the people expected to testify include Savio’s sisters, to whom she had confided fears that Peterson might kill her and make it look like an accident. Peterson’s former colleagues could also be asked to testify in the case, since police went to the pair’s home in Bolingbrook nearly 20 times in two years on domestic calls. Savio told officers that her husband had not only beaten her but also threatened to kill her.

Savio’s death was initially ruled an accidental drowning, but the case was reopened after Peterson’s fourth wife, Stacy, went missing. Savio’s body was exhumed and underwent a second autopsy, the results of which were that she had died at the hands of another.

Clergy members of a church that Stacy Peterson had attended may also be asked to testify in the Savio case. According to media reports, Stacy Peterson had told a clergy member just months before her own disappearance that Drew Peterson had confessed to her the killing of his third wife.

Peterson has not been charged in the disappearance of Stacy Peterson.

State’s Attorney James Glasgow pushed for the passage of the legislation, saying that it was crucial to his case that Savio be allowed to testify, in effect, from the grave. Although the legislators never publicly acknowledged that the law had anything to do with Peterson, it has been nicknamed “Drew’s Law.”

A trial date has not yet been set for Peterson, who has pleaded not guilty to the murder of Savio.

 

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