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Drew Peterson threatened third wife Kathleen Savio weeks before she died, prosecutor tells jury

Former Illinois police sergeant Drew Peterson is charged with first-degree murder in the 2004 death of his third wife, Kathleen Savio. AP File/M. Spencer Green

(CBS/AP) JOLIET, Ill. - A prosecutor told jurors at the murder trial of former Illinois police officer Drew Peterson that the defendant threatened the life of his third wife Kathleen Savio just weeks before she died.

"Just weeks before her death he told her he was going to kill her and she would not make it to a divorce settlement and would never get his pension," Will County State's Attorney James Glasgow said during opening statements Tuesday.

Glasgow told jurors that Peterson, 58, killed his third wife, 40-year-old Kathleen Savio, in 2004 and made it look like an accident. The former cop is charged with first-degree murder in Savio's death. He is also suspected but not charged in the 2007 disappearance of his fourth wife, 23-year-old Stacy Peterson.

But defense attorney Joel Brodsky suggested during his opening statement that Peterson is the victim of his ex-wife's smear campaign, saying that Savio lied in court documents when she said she was afraid of Peterson as a ploy during an ugly divorce to get as much money as possible.

"She was building her case against Drew," Brodsky said.

Peterson was only charged in Savio's death after his much younger fourth wife's disappearance. He denies wrongdoing in both cases.

A botched initial investigation into Savio's death leaves prosecutors with hardly any physical evidence linking Peterson to Savio's death. They'll rely on circumstantial and hearsay evidence to convince jurors of Peterson's guilt, even though such hearsay evidence is normally barred at trials.

Complete coverage of the Drew Peterson case on Crimesider

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