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Drew Peterson murder trial judge allows hit man testimony

Drew Peterson leaves the Will County Jail after posting bail on a weapons charge on May 21, 2008, in Joliet, Ill. Scott Olson/Getty Images

(CBS/AP) JOLIET, Ill. - The judge at Drew Peterson's murder trial says prosecutors can introduce potentially powerful testimony that the former suburban Chicago police officer once took steps to hire a hit man to kill his third wife.

Judge Edward Burmila handed prosecutors the legal victory Tuesday as testimony entered its fourth week.

Prosecutors say Peterson asked a one-time co-worker to find someone to kill Kathleen Savio for $25,000. Prosecutors want to show Peterson plotted Savio's murder for weeks, although they allege he killed her himself.

Prosecutors didn't list the hit-man allegation on the appropriate pre-trial documents, and defense attorneys say they shouldn't be allowed to correct that mistake now.

Also on Tuesday, the trial halted briefly after Medical Examiner Mary Case during her testimony mentioned the names of witnesses the state does not intend to call or whose testimony was barred, the Chicago Tribune reports. Judge Burmila said he would allow Case to continue testifying after he instructed jurors to ignore the names she mentioned.

Peterson has pleaded not guilty to killing Savio in 2004. Peterson was only charged after his fourth wife, Stacy Peterson, went missing in 2007.

Complete coverage of the Drew Peterson case on Crimesider

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