JOLIET, Ill. (AP) — Some of Drew Peterson's lawyers can both deliver arguments and testify at an upcoming hearing on whether the former Chicago-area police officer should get a new trial following his conviction for killing his third wife, a judge ruled Thursday.
The rare occurrence of attorneys serving simultaneously as witnesses and lawyers for a defendant is expected to happen at what could be two days of hearings in Joliet starting on Feb. 19.
If Will County Judge Edward Burmila next month denies the motion to give Peterson a new trial, the judge said at a Thursday status hearing that he would proceed straight to sentencing. Peterson, 59, faces up to 60 years in prison.
Jurors convicted Peterson in September of first-degree murder in the 2004 drowning death of his third wife, Kathleen Savio. He was charged only after his fourth wife, Stacy Peterson, disappeared in 2007. Authorities presume Stacy Peterson is dead; Drew Peterson is a suspect but has never been charged in that case.
The pending motion argues that Peterson's lead trial attorney, Joel Brodsky, failed to adequately defend Peterson. Amid public squabbling between Peterson's lawyers, Brodsky stepped down from the defense team in November.
Brodsky has adamantly denied that he failed to properly represent Peterson and he has accused his existing attorneys of fabricating those allegations.
Steve Greenberg and Joseph Lopez were on the trial team with Brodsky, but they, unlike Brodsky, still represent Peterson. Burmila said they had a right to make arguments and testify on the issue of Peterson's legal defense at trial.
There is a chance Brodsky and even Peterson himself could also testify.
Acrimony, especially between Peterson and Greenberg, delayed Peterson's original sentencing date.
In a court filing last month, Peterson's current lawyers accused Brodsky of misrepresenting his experience, engaging in an unprecedented media blitz and calling a witness who jurors later said was key to their decision to convict.
Brodsky called the filing at the time "a bald-faced lie" and said the entire legal team had agreed to the trial strategy.