(CHICAGO) — Drew Peterson’s 19-year-old son took the stand in his father’s murder trial Wednesday, telling the jury that his dad did not kill his mother.
Dressed in a suit and tie, Thomas Peterson told the court, “I believe that my dad is innocent.”
When asked to recall the night Drew Peterson told him and his brother that their mother, Kathleen Savio, 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 years old when his mother died.
Drew Peterson, 58, also informed the court that he would not take the witness stand.
Peterson, a former Chicago police sergeant, said the first-degree murder charges against him are bogus, and he did not kill his third wife, Savio, in 2004. 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 had been killed and Peterson was charged with homicide.
Peterson has maintained his innocence in both cases, and he has not been charged in connection with Stacy Peterson’s vanishing.
When Thomas Peterson was asked about Stacy Peterson’s disappearance, he replied, “She left on her own accord, so I don’t know.”
Before Stacy Peterson disappeared, she allegedly told divorce lawyer Harry Smith she believed her husband was guilty of killing his third wife. The defense called Smith to the witness stand on Wednesday, hoping to establish that Stacy Peterson’s claim was simply a made-up attempt to extort money from Drew Peterson.
“She wanted to know if, in my opinion, if the fact that he killed Kathy could be used against him in the divorce proceeding,” Smith told the court.
The defense immediately went into damage control mode, calling Smith a hostile witness and accusing him of perjury.
“It backfired completely. That will be probably the main thing that leads to his conviction,” said ABC News legal analyst Kathleen Zellner.
Earlier this week, two doctors testified that Savio’s death was consistent with an accident. Last week, the prosecution presented a witness who said the tub’s edges were not jagged enough to cause the kind of wound Salvio sustained.
Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio
Eric Levenson, CNN
AJ Willingham, CNN
David Williams, CNN