After six weeks of testimony and nearly 14 hours of deliberations, a Joliet, Ill., jury found ex-cop Drew Peterson guilty of the 2004 murder of his third wife, Kathleen Savio, on Thursday.
“We got the bastard,” Savio’s brother-in-law, Mitch Doman, said as he left the courtroom, the Hearld-News reported.
As the verdict was read, Doman started crying and hugged Savio’s sisters, Anna and Sue Doman. “At least I know we got justice in the end,” Mitch told reporters afterward.
Peterson, 58, faces up to 60 years in prison. His sentencing will be November 26. Illinois has no death penalty.
“I consider this the first step in a successful appeal,” Joel Brodsky, one of Peterson’s defense attorneys told reporters after the verdict. “There are several world class attorneys waiting to sink their teeth into this.”
Savio’s drowning death in her bathtub in 2004 was originally declared an accident, but authorities reopened the investigation in 2007, after Peterson’s fourth wife, Stacy Peterson, 23, vanished. Stacy Peterson is still missing. Peterson was arrested in May 2009, and he has been in jail ever since.
In closing arguments on Tuesday, both sides focused on the testimony of their expert witnesses, forensic pathologists who testified about the injuries found on Savio’s body. The defense presented experts who testified that Savio’s injuries clearly pointed to an accidental death, while the prosecution’s experts said the injuries indicated a brutal murder. Prosecutors reminded the jury that a witness called by the defense admitted that the chance of a healthy adult drowning in a bathtub was “one in a million.”
Cassandra Cales, the sister of Drew Peterson’s fourth wife, Stacy, and family spokeswoman Pam Bosco, sat calmly when the verdict was read, the Chicago Sun-Times reported. But the family clearly expressed their relief in the verdict.
Drew Peterson “will never be able to hurt another woman again,” Bosco told the paper. “I always believed in the system. I never saw this man getting back on the street.”
She told the Sun-Times she believes the verdict is partial justice for Stacy because statements Stacy made before she vanished were heard in the courtroom through testimony of witnesses at the trial.
“She made sure he’d never get back on the street,” Bosco said.