(MCT) — Drew Peterson is expected to formally challenge his conviction next month — and his attorneys apparently have plenty to say about it.
Peterson's lawyers recently submitted their third request for permission to exceed the 50-page limit imposed on appeal briefs in Illinois — only to be swiftly denied by the 3rd District Appellate Court for the third time.
In a motion filed this month, Peterson's attorneys said his case has generated more than 11,000 pages of court records, including 3,000 pages stemming from the landmark hearsay hearing held two years before his murder trial. The trial transcript contains more than 5,000 pages, according to the filing.
The 3rd District also prohibits defendants from using more than 15 pages to outline the facts of the case, a limit that Peterson's lawyers say is unfair given the history of the headline-grabbing legal drama.
"Even if he were only to summarize the trial proceedings in his statement of facts, (Peterson) still could only write one page for every 300-plus pages of transcript," the motion stated.
Peterson's lawyers asked that the appellate court allow them to submit 50 pages outlining the facts of the case and an additional 125 pages to argue why his conviction should be reversed.
Will County prosecutors did not object to the request, but Peterson's attorneys received a written communication from the court over the weekend telling them that their request was again denied.
Peterson, 59, was sentenced in February to 38 years in prison for murdering his third wife, Kathleen Savio, in 2004. He remains the only suspect in the 2007 disappearance of his fourth wife, Stacy, whose case prompted authorities to reopen the Savio investigation. He denies harming either woman.
Appellate court records suggest Peterson will challenge his conviction based on multiple factors, including the admissibility of hearsay statements used against him during the trial and whether the judge erred when he allowed Stacy's pastor to testify about conversations she had with him.
He also is expected to accuse former lead defense attorney Joel Brodsky of ineffective counsel. The trial judge dismissed that claim before sentencing, saying Peterson received adequate representation.
Peterson must submit his appeal by Jan. 14. His attorneys expect appellate arguments to be held in late 2014.
"This was a targeted prosecution based on distorted legal procedures," Peterson attorney Steven Greenberg said. "They prosecuted the case that way because they didn't have the facts."
Will County State's Attorney James Glasgow repeatedly has said the conviction will withstand any challenges.
"We feel confident in the case, and we're confident about the issues we'll present on appeal," Glasgow spokesman Charles Pelkie said.
In the meantime, Peterson remains incarcerated at Menard Correctional Center, a maximum-security prison. He is in protective custody, meaning he does not mix with the general population.
Since Peterson's arrest nearly five years ago, his son, Stephen, has been raising his four younger siblings in Drew and Stacy Peterson's Bolingbrook home. His two oldest half brothers — Kathleen Savio's sons — are in college. The two younger half siblings — Stacy's children — are in grade school.
The family's primary source of income is Drew Peterson's $79,000 pension from his nearly 30 years with the Bolingbrook Police Department. Village officials are examining whether to strip him of his retirement benefits after his murder conviction.
Stephen Peterson lost his job as an Oak Brook police officer in the wake of Stacy Peterson's disappearance. The village police commission fired him in 2011 after ruling that he failed to disclose important information and potentially obstructed an Illinois State Police investigation into Stacy's case. A state appellate court upheld the firing this month.
(c)2013 the Chicago Tribune
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