(JOLIET, Ill.) — The murder trial of former Illinois cop Drew Peterson will wrap up Tuesday as attorneys for both sides offer closing arguments to the Joliet, Ill., jury.
The final statements will close a five-week trial that has been marked by heated legal battles and three calls for mistrial by attorneys for Peterson, 58, who is accused of killing his wife, Kathleen Savio, in 2004.
Savio’s death was initially ruled an accident after she was found dead in her bathtub. After Peterson’s fourth wife, Stacy, disappeared without a trace in 2007, police exhumed Savio’s body and reexamined it as part of the Stacy Peterson investigation. They then changed the cause of death to homicide and charged Drew Peterson.
Drew Peterson has denied any involvement in Savio’s death, and prosecutors admit there is no physical evidence tying him to the scene of the crime. He has never been charged in connection with Stacy’s disappearance.
Peterson’s trial has revolved around statements that both of his wives, Savio and Stacy Peterson, made to others. Stacy Peterson’s divorce attorney testified last week that she once asked him whether she should disclose in divorce proceedings that Drew killed Savio.
According to other witnesses, Savio made statements to friends and family members showing anxiety that Drew Peterson would hurt her, and had threatened to kill her in the past.
The hearsay testimony was the subject of contentious legal battles between defense attorneys and prosecutors.
On Tuesday, the prosecution will offer its closing statements to the jury first, tying together the hearsay statements of both women and the expert testimony of forensic pathologists who testified that Savio’s injuries were clearly the result of murder.
Peterson’s attorneys will also rely on expert testimony from the forensic pathologists they called to the stand, who argued that Savio’s injuries were in fact the result of an accidental slip and fall in the bathtub. They are expected to emphasize that there is no physical evidence or eyewitness accounts placing Peterson at the scene of Savio’s death.
The prosecution will then offer a rebuttal before the case is handed to the jury for deliberations. Judge Edward Burmila on Friday read the jury detailed instructions on deliberating.
The former Bolingbrook, Ill., police sergeant faces 60 years in prison if convicted.
Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio
Jamie Crawford, CNN
Lois M. Collins, Deseret News