The Free Press, Mankato, MN

State, national news

February 19, 2013

Peterson murder case returns with motion for new trial

— Drew Peterson's defense lawyers were a united, wisecracking front during most of the former suburban Chicago police officer's 2012 murder trial, and rarely without their dark sunglasses. But by the time Peterson was found guilty of killing his third wife, the attorneys' bond was irreparably fractured.

The public feud between former lead trial counsel Joel Brodsky and colleague-turned-nemesis Steve Greenberg was taken into a courthouse Tuesday. The defense called several witnesses in a bid to bolster their contention that Peterson deserves a new trial because Brodsky botched the first trial.

If Will County Judge Edward Burmila rejects the motion for a retrial, he has said he would move on to Peterson's sentencing.

Peterson, 59, faces a maximum 60-year prison term for murdering Kathleen Savio, who was found dead in her bathtub with a gash on her head. As a convicted felon, he had to enter court Tuesday in blue prison garb and shackles — a stark contrast from the business suits the then-suspect was allowed to don for his trial.

Among those the defense called to the stand Tuesday was a law school teacher who testified that Brodsky had violated ethical norms by allegedly signing a contract to split future book and movie proceeds with Peterson years before the case even went to trial.

"It seems that this is over the line," Clifford Scott-Rudnick, a professor at Chicago's John Marshall Law School told the judge.

Cutting business deals with clients, he said, raises the danger that lawyers will act in their own business interest rather than in their client's legal interest.

The bitter acrimony between a former and a current attorney is the latest twist in the peculiar saga of the former Bolingbrook police sergeant, who gained notoriety after his much younger fourth wife, Stacy Peterson, vanished in 2007.

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