CHICAGO, September 6, 2012 — The Drew Peterson case is finally over. A jury found Drew Peterson guilty of murdering his third estranged wife Kathleen Savio.
The Peterson case drew national and international attention after Peterson’s fourth wife Stacy disappeared in 2007. The death of his third wife, Kathleen Savio, was reopened and reinvestigated. Savio’s death was originally classified as an accident. She was found naked, face down, in the empty bathtub in her home in 2004.
This case was tabloid fodder. From the egregious conduct by the prosecution, the bias of the judge, and a jury who thought they were fashion celebrities, showing up dressed alike almost every day. Then there were the defense lawyers with their mobster style sunglasses and celebrity tough guy attitudes.
Hours before the verdict was rendered, the fashion jury sent a note to the judge asking what “unanimous” meant. These twelve people were able to “unanimously” agree and decide to dress alike each day, including sports jerseys, but they did not know what “unanimous” meant. If this is a jury pool the gene pool is in trouble.
Drew Peterson never met a camera, microphone, or television show he did not love. He made the talk, news, and entertainment news circuit with a passion proclaiming his innocence. A television movie was made about him starring Rob Lowe. A major television network made a day-in-the-life-of style documentary about Drew Peterson.
Drew Peterson may indeed be guilty of murder. But, did he get a fair and impartial trial? There is plenty of reasonable doubt about that. The prosecution and trial was a circus. It was pure entertainment. It was fodder for the tabloids. It was ridiculous. Murder trials should not be entertaining or ridiculous.
Make no mistake. Drew Peterson was not prosecuted and tried because he killed his third wife or made his fourth wife disappear. He was put on trial because he made a mockery of the whole system with his public appearance antics. He even flaunted his new single life in public with the media in tow. Had he kept a low profile, kept his mouth shut, and ignored the media, right or wrong he would be a free man today.
Drew Peterson was put on trial because the prosecutor, James Glascow was starting to look like a buffoon as Peterson became a minor celebrity. Glascow was so desperate to convict Peterson he went to the state legislature to have a special law passed to admit circumstantial third party hearsay evidence into trial. The new law was appropriately called Drew’s Law. The constitutionality of the law is still in question.
The Drew Peterson case was not about justice. It was a personal prosecutorial vendetta by James Glascow. He was not going to let a former police officer make a fool out of him in the national media.
James Glascow thinks he can now prosecute Drew Peterson for the murder of his missing fourth wife, Stacy. “The longer someone is missing, the easier it is to prove they’re dead, he said.” (Chicago Tribune)
Lisa Stebic has been missing six months longer than Stacy Peterson. Until Stacy Peterson disappeared, the Stebic case was the focus of the national media. Peterson took that focus away.
Glascow is not moving heaven and earth to prosecute Craig Stebic, her husband. He is not getting a special law passed, “Craig’s Law”, to get Stebic convicted. He is not demanding a reopening, reinvestigation, or restructuring of the Stebic case. He is doing nothing to close the Lisa Stebic case. There is more evidence in the Stebic case than there was in the Peterson/Savio murder case.
Craig Stebic clammed up and lawyered up. Craig Stebic did not make a fool out of the authorities or travel the country appearing on television proclaiming his innocence. He zipped his lips. Glascow must thank his lucky stars Stebic knew more about crime than the so-called experienced ex-police officer Drew Peterson.
Glascow, the media, and everyone else forgot about Lisa Stebic. She is a non-entity.
The Peterson trial is an appeals attorney’s dream come true. Appeals take time and money. Peterson will serve some years in prison before the appeals are heard and exhausted. If the verdict is overturned there will not be enough eggs to go around for people’s faces, especially if the Appeals Courts issue a scathing decision.
Our justice system is supposed to be designed to protect the accused and guarantee a fair and impartial trial. Justice is guaranteed to the accused. The public and the media seem to forget that.
The Peterson trial and all the political machinations surrounding it stood American jurisprudence on its head. Worse, it was done out in the open, in the media and social media for all to see.
Thomas Jefferson said “It is better one hundred guilty men go free than one innocent man be condemned.” Unfortunately that sentiment has been changed to “convict at all costs”.
Peter V. Bella is a retired Chicago Police Officer, freelance journalist and photojournalist, cook, and raconteur. He likes to be the irreverent sharp stick that pokes, prods, and annoys. His opinions are his and his alone. Mr. Bella is a member of the National Press Photographers Association and the Society for Professional Journalists.
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