Drew Peterson found guilty of trying to have prosecutor killed

By Matthew Walberg, Chicago Tribune

Drew Peterson slouched in his chair at the defense table and rested his head on his left hand, his face dispassionate and devoid of emotion as the judge read aloud the jury’s verdict that found Peterson guilty of trying to hire a hit man to kill the prosecutor who put him in prison for murder.

Clad in baggy black trousers and a yellowed prison-issue white shirt at least one size too large, the former Bolingbrook police officer’s muted reaction was the opposite of the persona he displayed nearly a decade ago when he garnered international headlines with his oafish behavior after the disappearance of his fourth wife, Stacy Peterson.

He shook his attorney’s hand and filed out of the courtroom flanked by massive prison guards in black fatigues, mouthing something unintelligible at Stacy’s sister, Cassandra Cales, who smiled uncomfortably as she stared him down.


It took the jury only about an hour to find Drew Peterson guilty of solicitation of murder and solicitation of murder for hire. The verdict was a victory not only for the intended victim, Will County State’s Attorney James Glasgow, but also for Cales.

“You know, this just put another nail in his coffin and now, obviously, I hope he sees that he’s never getting out of jail,” Cales said outside the courthouse in downstate Randolph County. “Karma’s catching up with him. He’s, you know, gonna stay in prison forever.”

Cales would not reveal what Peterson said to her as he left the courtroom, but said she still holds hope that the mystery of her sister’s disappearance one day will be solved.

Peterson, 62, faces up to 60 years in prison when he is sentenced in July. The sentence would start after Peterson’s 38-year prison term for the 2004 murder of his third wife, Kathleen Savio.

The heart of the state’s case — which was co-prosecuted by the Illinois attorney general’s office and Randolph County State’s Attorney Jeremy Walker — was hours of secretly recorded conversations between Peterson and Antonio “Beast” Smith, the fellow Menard Correctional Center inmate Peterson tapped to find someone to kill Glasgow.

The recordings, made over two weeks in November 2014, captured Peterson’s statements that he believed Glasgow abused the law to prosecute him and was unethically manipulating the legal system to obstruct his appeal. He told Smith that with Glasgow dead, his appeal would be nearly guaranteed to succeed and the prosecutor’s assistants wouldn’t have the guts to charge him with Stacy’s disappearance.

But Peterson was unaware that Smith, 25, had tipped off authorities to the plan and agreed to wear a wire, which caught Peterson exulting over the idea of Glasgow’s murder.


As part of his ruse, Smith told Peterson he had arranged for his uncle to kill Glasgow by Christmas 2014.

“I told him what you said, that it’s the green light on, that basically go ahead and kill him,” Smith said in a Nov. 15, 2014, recording. “That’s what you wanted, right? … It ain’t no turning back.”

“OK, alright. I’m in,” Peterson responded. “From the first time we talked about it, there was no turning back. … If I get some booze in here, we’ll celebrate that night.”

That exchange left no doubt about Peterson’s intentions, Assistant Attorney General Steve Nate told the jury Tuesday during his closing argument.

“He said it, he meant it and he’s guilty,” Nate said.

But Peterson’s defense attorney Lucas Liefer said the recordings were nonsensical prison talk and pointed out that Peterson never directly said on the recordings that he wanted Glasgow killed. He also said Smith, serving time for attempted murder, was unreliable and a liar.

“This case is wrought with inconsistency and incomplete evidence,” Liefer told the jury.

Stacy Peterson’s disappearance in 2007 prompted Glasgow to reopen a probe into Savio’s death, which was originally ruled an accident after she was found dead in her bathtub. No one has ever been charged in Stacy Peterson’s disappearance. Drew Peterson is the only suspect in the case, authorities have said.

On the recordings, Peterson told Smith he believed his wife was still alive — which Liefer tried to use to show the jurors that Smith was lying when he testified last week that Peterson told him he had killed her.

Liefer said the state’s case hinged on the word of a man who was later paid about $3,000 by the FBI — “a lying snitch, who is so unreliable that it’s embarrassing the state paid him money.”

He argued prosecutors, eager to get a second crack at Peterson, were willing to work with Smith, who had been transferred from Menard to another facility in Pontiac where he made enemies for informing on correctional officers.

“It had nothing to do with doing the right thing,” Liefer argued. “He [Smith] had to get out of Pontiac, and he didn’t know what else to do. He was a rat caught in a trap, and he had to get out.”

Smith testified the payments were made to replace property he lost when he was transferred to federal custody after wearing the wire on Peterson.

Walker said Smith — who is serving the remainder of a 40-year sentence for crimes including attempted murder — has a challenging future in the prison system.

“You think he’s ever going to sleep with both eyes closed again? There’s no way,” Walker argued. “Because he crossed the biggest line there is: He wore a wire on a fellow inmate in a maximum security prison.”

(c)2016 Chicago Tribune

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