(CHICAGO) — Jury selection in the trial of Drew Peterson for the alleged murder of his third wife began today in Joliet, Ill., but the former cop’s attorney predicted that the judge will throw out the case after the prosecution concludes its case.
“We have always said, and this has never changed: They simply don’t have any evidence. They have conjecture, rumor, speculation, hearsay, but they don’t have any evidence. Even a predispositioned jury is going to want to hear evidence, and they don’t have any,” Peterson’s attorney Joel Brodsky told ABC News.
Brodsky acknowledged that the jury may be “predispositioned” because of Peterson’s notoriety.
Peterson, a former sergeant in the Bolingbrook, Ill., police department, became the focus of national attention when his fourth wife Stacy Peterson disappeared in 2007. Rob Lowe even starred as Peterson in a Lifetime original movie.
He was never charged in Stacy Peterson’s disappearance, but the search for Stacy prompted investigators to exhume the body of his third wife, Kathleen Savio, who died in 2003. She had originally been ruled to have slipped and fallen in her bathtub before drowning. That finding was changed to murder.
Prosecutors, Brodsky insisted, have no case.
“First, they are not going to be able to say that (the death investigation was botched) because it wasn’t,” Brodsky said. “By saying that if they had done a better job in the investigation, then they would have been able to prosecute Drew Peterson, that lowers the burden of proof. Where you don’t have evidence, you presume innocence.”
Brodsky said he was so confident that the state had no case that he was convinced a judge would throw out the case as soon as the prosecution rests.
“I don’t know why they are prosecuting this. I am serious. This case should never have been brought,” Brodsky said. “If they can prosecute Drew Peterson on this garbage, rumor, back fence gossip, then nobody’s safe.”
At the time of Savio’s death, she was separated from her husband who was already seeing Stacy, who would become his fourth wife.
Savio was found in a dry bathtub, with her hair soaked in blood. She was discovered after Drew Peterson arrived that morning to drop off their children after a weekend in his custody.
When Savio did not answer the door, he had neighbors check on her, and then rushed up the stairs to take her pulse when she was found unresponsive. Prosecutors argue that Peterson’s behavior was that of an experienced police officer purposefully contaminating the crime scene.
Peterson’s son, who was with him during the weekend in question, may be called to testify on his father’s behalf.
The trial will likely include statements both women made to friends and acquaintances, including Stacy Peterson’s statements that she saw Drew arrive home with women’s clothing around the time of Savio’s death.
Savio’s sister may also take the stand to describe Savio’s statements that Peterson threatened her with a knife and said he could make her death look like an accident.
Other witnesses could include Savio’s neighbor, a then-14-year-old boy who was among the neighbors who found Savio in the dry bathtub.
“That doesn’t concern us,” Brodsky said. “Anybody that knows anybody that has been through a divorce knows that people say things and do things that is totally out of character, and clearly Kathy was trying to build a case to try and get as much money as she could.”
Prosecutors will also likely call on experts to argue that Savio did not die of an accidental fall, and that her injuries show some sort of assault that the coroner missed at the time of her death.
Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio
Stephen Collinson, CNN
Peter Valdes-Dapena, CNN
Virginia Anderson, Kaiser Health News
Ivana Kottasova, CNN