JOLIET, Ill. — Drew Peterson — the swaggering Chicago area policeman who gained notoriety after his fourth wife vanished — lost his characteristic cool in court Thursday, screaming out his innocence before a judge sentenced him to 38 years for the 2004 murder of his third wife.
"I did not kill Kathleen!" Peterson shouted, leaning into a courtroom microphone and emphasizing each of the five words.
Without missing a beat, his dead wife's sister, Susan Doman, shouted back, "Yes, you did! You liar!" The judge ordered her removal from the courtroom.
Peterson casually dismissed and even joked about suggestions he killed his third wife, Kathleen Savio, or that he was behind the disappearance of his fourth wife, Stacy Peterson.
His sudden explosion of fury Thursday left spectators gasping. Lead state prosecutor James Glasgow said it exposed the real Drew Peterson — the one more than capable of murder.
The 59-year-old Peterson faced a maximum 60-year prison term. Judge Edward Burmila gave him four years' credit for time he has served since his 2009 arrest.
Savio's death was initially ruled an accident but Stacy Peterson's 2007 disappearance prompted authorities to take another look.