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Drew Peterson Withdraws Mistrial Request, Wants Jury to Decide Case

Giovanni Rufino/NBC NewsWire(CHICAGO) -- Accused wife-killer Drew Peterson on Wednesday withdrew his third request for a mistrial in his murder case, with his attorneys saying in court that they want a jury to decide the case.

Judge Edward Burmila had stopped court proceedings Tuesday after a prosecutor disregarded his order not to mention a restraining order that Peterson's wife had sought against him, prompting the defense to call for a mistrial for the third time in the three-week-long trial, according to ABC News affiliate WLS-TV.

"There was one thing I told you not to go into and that's exactly what you did," Burmila said Tuesday.

Prosecutor Kathleen Patton apologized for mentioning the order of protection, saying it was her mistake, not that of the state prosecutors.

"I'm sorry," Patton said.  "It's my fault.  I can't believe I did it."

Burmila adjourned court, saying he would return with a decision about the mistrial request Wednesday morning.  Peterson's attorneys, however, arrived at court Wednesday morning and withdrew their request before Burmila ruled, WLS reported.

Former police sergeant Peterson, 58, is accused of killing his third wife, Kathleen Savio.  Her death was originally declared an accidental drowning after she was found dead in her bathtub.

In 2007, however, Peterson's fourth wife, Stacy Peterson, vanished, and police exhumed Savio's body as part of the investigation into Stacy's disappearance.  A new report by forensic pathologists found that Savio was murdered, and Peterson was charged with homicide.

Peterson has maintained his innocence in both cases, and he has not been charged in connection to Stacy's disappearance.  

Burmila previously denied two requests for a mistrial based on prosecutorial missteps, both stemming from the prosecution's mention of evidence that had not been cleared yet by Burmila.

Legal wrangling over what evidence the jury is allowed to hear has played a pivotal role in the case against Peterson, as the prosecution tries to prove the murder charge by showing that Peterson intimidated his wife through actions and statements.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

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