(CHICAGO) — Prosecutors in the Drew Peterson murder trial lined up a series of forensic experts as the trial’s final witnesses on Thursday to rebut defense claims that Peterson’s third wife died by falling in her bathtub and drowning.
The first of the prosecution’s rebuttal witnesses was Dr. Michael Baden, a nationally-known pathologist who has testified in numerous prominent murder cases.
Peterson’s defense lawyers have pointed to the initial autopsy following the death of Kathleen Savio which concluded she died from a fall in her bathtub.
“I disagree with that opinion. The injury pattern, in my opinion, could not be caused by a fall,” Baden said according to ABC News affiliate WLS-TV.
The prosecution rested its case after calling an additional pathologist to describe Savio’s injuries, winding down testimony in the high-profile trial. The jury will receive instructions on the case from Judge Edward Burmila on Friday, and closing statements will be made next Tuesday before deliberations begin.
Savio’s death was initially ruled an accident after she was found dead in her bathtub in 2004. In 2007, however, when Peterson’s fourth wife Stacy disappeared, police exhumed Savio’s body and reexamined it, changing the cause of her death to homicide. Peterson was then charged with murder.
Both the defense and the prosecution have produced expert witnesses to testify about Savio’s injuries and whether they showed signs of murder or an accidental fall.
Peterson has denied wrongdoing in both cases, claiming that he had no ties to the scene of Savio’s death and that Stacy left him.
Peterson’s attorneys rested their defense on Thursday after Peterson declined to take the stand to testify and instead left his son, Thomas, to testify as their final witness.
Thomas Peterson, dressed in a suit and tie on the stand, told jurors that the believed his father was innocent and not implicated in the death of his mother.
When asked to recall the night Drew Peterson told him and his brother that their mother was dead, Thomas Peterson told the court, “He was very, very shaken up about it. I’d never seen anyone so sad.” Thomas Peterson was 11 when his mother died.
The defense’s final day of testimony also included a bombshell dropped seemingly in favor of the prosecution, as a divorce attorney who once represented Stacy Peterson testified that at one point, Stacy told him that Drew had killed Savio.
“She wanted to know if, in my opinion, if the fact that he killed Kathy could be used against him in the divorce proceeding,” attorney Harry Smith told the court.
Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio
Doug Criss, CNN
Doug Criss, CNN Newswire
Jennifer Graham, Deseret News
Victor Blackwell, CNN Newswire