JOLIET, Ill. — An increasingly exasperated judge at former police officer Drew Peterson's murder trial delivered his strongest rebuke of prosecutors yet on Wednesday after a pathologist spoke about crawling into the bathtub where Peterson's third wife was found dead.
Prosecutors are trying to prove that Peterson, 58, killed Kathleen Savio, whose 2004 death was initially ruled accidental. Savio's body was re-examined and her death reclassified as a homicide only after Peterson's fourth wife, Stacy Peterson, disappeared in 2007.
Dr. Larry Blum, a forensic pathologist, testified Wednesday about how he determined Savio's death was a homicide, reversing an initial finding that she died in an accidental fall. Judge Edward Burmila had told attorneys for the state before Blum took the stand that he could not talk about getting into the tub where Savio was found dead.
When Blum did just that under questioning from Will County State's Attorney James Glasgow, Burmila sent jurors out of the room and took Glasgow to task.
Burmila refused to throw out Blum's testimony and allowed him later to continue on the stand.
The blunder came just hours after Peterson's attorneys told the judge he wanted to withdraw a motion for a mistrial made after another blunder Tuesday, the prosecution's third in as many weeks to prompt Burmila to give serious consideration to declaring a mistrial.
"We are not giving the state a practice run," defense attorney Joe Lopez said, referring to how the state could seek to adjust their strategy at any retrial. "This is a real race and Mr. Peterson wants the world to know that he's not afraid. He wants to keep this jury in its place."