The murder trial of former suburban Chicago police sergeant Drew Peterson began today with dueling explanations of his third wife's death. Prosecutors gave jurors an account that could have come from a 1940s pulp novel, in which a man does whatever he must— including murder—to keep his ex-wife's hands off his money. On the other side, Peterson's attorneys argued the former officer was a victim of something newer: a 24-hour news cycle and cable TV's talking heads, which together created a media frenzy that did not subside until prosecutors had charged an innocent man.
Peterson is charged with first-degree murder in the 2004 death of his third wife, Kathleen Savio. He is suspected but not charged in the 2007 disappearance of his fourth wife, Stacy Peterson. Peterson appeared relaxed but engaged today, jotting notes and occasionally looking back at the crowded spectators' benches. In a dry tone, Will County State's Attorney James Glasgow told jurors that Peterson, 58, killed Savio, 40, and made it look like an accidental bathtub drowning. In his opening, defense attorney Joel Brodsky told jurors repeatedly there was no evidence that Savio's death was anything but a tragic accident.