Drew Peterson – the swaggering former suburban Chicago police officer who gained notoriety after his much-younger fourth wife vanished in 2007 – was sentenced to 38 years in prison on Thursday for murdering his third wife.
Illinois does not have the death penalty, and the 59-year-old Peterson had faced a maximum 60-year prison term. The judge gave him four years’ credit for time he has served since his arrest.
Jurors convicted Peterson in September in Kathleen Savio’s 2004 death. Neighbors found the 40-year-old’s body in a dry bathtub at home with a gash on her head and her hair soaked in blood.
Peterson is also a suspect in the disappearance of Stacy Peterson, who was 23-years-old when she vanished, but he hasn’t been charged in her case.
It was her disappearance that led authorities to take another look at Savio’s death and eventually reclassify it from an accident to a homicide.
Fascination nationwide with Peterson arose from speculation he sought to use his law enforcement expertise to get away with murder.
Peterson shocked the courtroom during his sentencing hearing by shouting, “I did not kill Kathleen!” as he made a statement to the court.
Someone in the court audience responded by shouting back, “Yes, you did,” and the person was then removed from the room.
Earlier Thursday, Judge Edward Burmila denied a defense request to grant Peterson a retrial.
Before his 2009 arrest, the glib, cocky Drew Peterson seemed to taunt authorities, suggesting a “Win a Date With Drew Contest” and then, after his arrest, “Win a Conjugal Visit With Drew Contest.” More recently, his story inspired a TV movie starring Rob Lowe.