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Drew Peterson introduces self to would-be jurors

JOLIET, Ill. — Drew Peterson introduced himself to would-be jurors Monday as jury selection began in the long-delayed murder trial of the former suburban Chicago police officer.

Peterson, 58, is charged with killing his third wife, Kathleen Savio, in 2004. Her body was found in a dry bathtub in her home, her hair soaked with blood. The ex-sergeant of the Bolingbrook police also is a suspect in the 2007 disappearance of his fourth wife, Stacy Peterson, but he has not been charged.

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Peterson spoke to some 40 potential jurors as proceedings began Monday. ‘‘Good morning ladies and gentlemen, I’m Mr. Peterson,’’ he said.

During the trial, jurors are likely to hear statements the women purportedly made to friends and relatives about threats allegedly Peterson made. Such hearsay is usually barred, but an appellate court ruled, after a series of legal battles, that jurors can hear the statements in this case.

Because of those battles, the 200-person jury pool has been waiting three years for a trial to get underway.

‘‘I’ve never heard of anything comparable to this — a jury pool waiting around for so long knowing what case they’re going to be in and the reliance on hearsay,’’ said Gal Pissetzky, a Chicago defense lawyer with no link to the case.

The defense raised concerns that some prospective jurors may have violated orders to avoid all news about Peterson.

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