JOLIET, Ill. — A judge said he believes Drew Peterson can receive a fair trial in his murder case on Thursday, but not before he chided prosecutors for entering inadmissible evidence and even criticized them in front of jurors.
Testimony resumed with paramedics and a locksmith, shortly after an in-court legal drama that came close to ending the high-profile trial before it had barely begun.
Judge Edward Burmila’s decision not to grant a mistrial followed a series of blunders by prosecutors, who are seeking to prove that Peterson, 58, killed his third wife, Kathleen Savio, whose body was found in a dry bathtub in 2004. The defendant also is a suspect in the 2007 disappearance of his fourth wife, Stacy Peterson, but has never been charged in her case.
Burmila made it clear he seriously entertained the possibility of effectively ending the trial. He wondered aloud Wednesday if a witness’s comment had made Peterson appear menacing in jurors’ eyes, undermining his shot at a fair trial. But Thursday, Burmila said ending the trial was unnecessary.
This most recent legal hurdle is the latest of many in a saga that stretches back nearly a decade. A botched initial investigation, for instance, left prosecutors with no physical evidence and forced them to rely heavily on normally prohibited hearsay.