(MCT) — What may be Drew Peterson's final two court hearings have been scheduled for February during which his bid for a new murder trial will be heard and prosecutors will present evidence he killed his missing fourth wife as they seek the maximum 60-year prison sentence.
The former Bolingbrook police sergeant, who appeared in court Thursday with a new buzz cut and the beginnings of a beard, was convicted last fall of drowning his third wife, Kathleen Savio, in 2004. He is the sole suspect in the 2007 disappearance of his fourth wife, Stacy.
Prosecutors plan to present evidence that Peterson murdered his fourth wife, a factor Judge Edward Burmila could take into account when he sentences Peterson. The Will County judge on Thursday scheduled a hearing for Peterson's motion for a new trial for Feb. 19 with the sentencing hearing to follow a day later.
In their effort to win Peterson a new trial, his lawyers will try to prove his former lead attorney Joel Brodsky's alleged ineffective assistance, financial conflicts and outright threats prevented Peterson from receiving a fair trial.
They may call Brodsky to testify and subpoena his client financial records. Brodsky declined to comment in a text message, saying, "I have nothing to add to" a recently filed motion in which he called one of Peterson's attorneys "mentally ill."
Peterson attorney David Peilet said they would "spare any unnecessary roughness so to speak" as they try to build their case against Brodsky. And he told reporters he wasn't sure how Brodsky would react to any possible subpoenas.
"I would anticipate that he will respond in a way as to defend himself," Peilet said. "How that plays out, really the judge has the final call."
Will County State's Attorney James Glasgow said he isn't worried about Peterson winning a new trial or the verdict being overturned. "The record is rock solid," he said.
But he said the defense-team implosion was unique. "I've never seen lawyers go at each other like this before in the history of Will County," Glasgow said.
Prosecutors plan to call Peterson's second wife, Victoria Connolly, who testified at a pretrial hearing of how he pulled a gun on her, broke into her house and threatened to kill her. Also expected to testify is son Eric Peterson, who testified previously about a night Savio and Peterson fought at their home.
"What ex-wife doesn't want to say bad things about her husband?" defense attorney Joseph Lopez said of Connolly.
Stacy's sister Cassandra Cales said outside court Thursday that she expects Peterson will eventually be charged with murdering his fourth wife. Prosecutors have said Stacy's case is being reviewed again.
"There's no rush because he's obviously going to be going to prison," Cales said. "Justice will be served for Stacy."