Drew Peterson Case: Judge refuses to grant former cop a new murder trial

In this May 8, 2009 file photo, former Bolingbrook, Ill., police sergeant Drew Peterson arrives at the Will County Courthouse in Joliet, Ill., for his arraignment on charges of first-degree murder in the 2004 death of his third wife, Kathleen Savio, who was found in an empty bathtub at home. Jury selection begins Monday, July 23, 2012 in Peterson's trial.
AP Photo/M. Spencer Green
Drew Peterson
Drew Peterson seen in a May 8, 2009 photo.
AP Photo/M. Spencer Green

(CBS/AP) JOLIET, Ill. - A judge on Thursday denied Drew Peterson a new murder trial in the death of the former suburban Chicago police officer's third wife.

After the ruling, Judge Edward Burmila moved on to Peterson's sentencing hearing. The 59-year-old faces up to 60 years in prison for the 2004 death of Kathleen Savio.

Peterson's current legal team had argued for a new trial on grounds his former lead attorney, Joel Bodsky, botched the case.

Jurors convicted Peterson in September in the death of Savio. Peterson is also a suspect in the 2007 disappearance of his fourth wife, Stacy Peterson, but hasn't been charged in that case.

Peterson's current legal team had argued that Brodsky failed to adequately defend the former Bolingbrook police sergeant. Brodsky stepped down from the defense team in November as the lawyerly strife worsened.

Among the accusations from Steve Greenberg, who was on the trial team and still represents Peterson, is that Brodsky forced Peterson to stage a pretrial media blitz that harmed the ex-officer's cause.

Before his 2009 arrest, the glib, cocky 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.

The case began with a gruesome discovery. A neighbor came across Savio's body March 1, 2004. She was face down in her dry bathtub, her thick, black hair soaked in blood and a 2-inch gash was on the back of her head.

The drowning death of the 40-year-old aspiring nurse was initially deemed an accident. After Peterson's fourth wife, 23-year-old Stacy Peterson, vanished in 2007, Savio's body was exhumed, re-examined and her death reclassified as a homicide.

Drew Peterson had divorced Savio a year before her death. His motive for killing her, prosecutors said, was fear that a pending settlement would wipe him out financially.

Fascination nationwide with the case arose from speculation that Peterson sought to parlay three decades of law enforcement expertise into getting away with murder.

Complete coverage of the Drew Peterson case on Crimesider