Drew Peterson juror says hearsay evidence was "extremely critical" to reaching guilty verdict

In this booking photo provided May 7, 2009 by the Will County Sheriff's office in Joliet, Ill., former Bolingbrook, Ill., police sergeant Drew Peterson is shown.
AP Photo/Will County Sheriff's Office
Drew Peterson's May 7, 2009 booking photo
AP Photo/Will County Sheriff's Office

(CBS/AP) - The foreman of the Illinois jury that convicted Drew Peterson of murdering his third wife, Kathleen Savio, said Friday that the hearsay evidence presented in the case was "extremely critical" to the jury's decision.

Pictures: Drew Peterson, ex cop, guilty in Savio murder

Speaking at an afternoon press conference in Joliet, Ill., 22-year-old Eduardo Saldana said hearsay testimony attributed to Peterson's fourth wife, Stacy Peterson, who is missing, was "the biggest part about this."

On Thursday, juror Ron Supalo Jr., told CBS Chicago that the testimony of Rev. Neil Schori was particularly "compelling." Schori counseled Stacy Peterson, who has been missing since 2007, and testified that Stacy told him Peterson asked her to lie to police about where he was the night Kathleen Savio died.

Other admitted hearsay evidence came from Harry Smith, Savio's divorce attorney, who testified that Stacy Peterson came to him four days before Peterson disappeared, and asked whether she could use her supposed knowledge that Drew Peterson had murdered Savio, in her own divorce.

It is that hearsay evidence that Peterson's attorneys say they will likely challenge in appealing his conviction.

"Every single witness had a constitutional issue attached," said attorney Joel Brodsky. "We're ready to go up on appeal."

But James Glasgow, the prosecutor in the case, told reporters on Thursday that he believes the admission of the hearsay evidence will hold up on appeal.

"Forfeiture by wrongdoing is here to stay," said Glasgow. "When you murder the witness to silence them, you extinguish the right to confront the witness."

At the Friday press conference, jurors also said that they believed the testimony of  Jeffrey Pachter, a handyman who told the court Peterson had offered him $25,000 to kill Savio, and that they thought the fact that Peterson cleaned out the bathtub where Savio was found was "odd," reports the Chicago Tribune.

According to CBS Chicago, jurors said they all believed that Savio's death was a homicide, not an accident, as the defense tried to argue.

The jurors believe "possibly she was grabbed from behind, and possibly stuck her head under the bathroom sink, and that's how she got hurt with the big gash in her head," said juror Teresa Mathews.

The Tribune also reports that the jurors told reporters that at the very beginning of deliberations, seven jurors voted to convict, and that by the second day, the vote was 11-1.

Glasgow said Thursday that his office will soon be turning their attention to the case of Stacy Peterson, whose body has never been found, but who prosecutors have said they suspect Peterson of killing.

"We are going to aggressively review that case with an eye toward potentially charging it," said Glasgow.

Complete coverage of the Drew Peterson case on Crimesider

  • Julia Dahl

    Julia Dahl writes about crime and justice for