JOLIET, Ill. (AP) — Prosecutors in Drew Peterson's murder trial implored jurors Tuesday to use common sense in assessing the circumstantial case against him, while the defense said the state fell far short of proving the former Illinois police officer killed his third wife.
The attorneys delivered their closing arguments to jurors who will begin deliberating Wednesday in the trial for Peterson, who has pleaded not guilty to first-degree murder in Kathleen Savio's 2004 death. The former Bolingbrook police sergeant came under scrutiny in Savio's death only after his fourth wife disappeared.
Prosecutor Chris Koch began his closing remarks by walking up to the defense table, pointing at the 58-year-old Peterson and declaring in a booming voice, "It is clear this man killed Kathleen Savio."
Savio's lifeless body was found in her bathtub — her hair soaked with blood and gash on the back of her head. Prosecutors contend Peterson killed the 40-year-old aspiring nurse because he feared a pending divorce settlement would wipe him out financially. The defense contends she died in an accidental slip and fall.
As he spoke, Koch displayed a photograph of a smiling Savio, juxtaposing it with another picture of her bloated corpse jammed into her bathtub. Koch repeatedly told jurors to use common sense, telling them to consider how Peterson had threatened Savio several times and how he acted suspiciously after her death.
As he has during most of the six-week trial, Peterson looked on calmly from the defense table, occasionally taking notes or whispering something to his attorneys.
Savio's death was initially deemed an accident; it was re-examined and ruled a homicide after the 2007 disappearance of Peterson's fourth wife, Stacy Peterson. Peterson is suspected but hasn't been charged in Stacy Peterson's disappearance, and prosecutors were barred from mentioning or hinting that that she is presumed dead and that her husband is the lone suspect in her disappearance.
Punching his fist into his palm for emphasis, Koch said Peterson broke into his estranged wife's home — just a few blocks from Drew and Stacy Peterson's house in Bolingbrook — in the early morning hours before March 1, 2004.
"He went into that house, pushed her down, held her down until she inhaled fluid and drowned," said Koch.
He also cited witness testimony that Drew Peterson went to Savio's house where her family had gathered the day after her death, then headed upstairs to wash blood from the tub.
"Are you kidding me?!" balked Koch. "What in the world is he doing there? Murderers sometimes go back to the crime scene."
Investigators botched the initial investigation into Savio's death and collected no fingerprints, blood, hair samples or any other physical evidence, leaving prosecutors with a circumstantial case.
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