Family Law Prof Blog

Editor: Margaret Ryznar
Indiana University
Robert H. McKinney School of Law

Thursday, February 18, 2010

IL Hearsay Rule Tested by Drew Peterson


Drew Peterson, the former Bolingbrook, Ill., cop now accused of killing his third wife and a suspect in the disappearance of his fourth wife, will have an opportunity to respond this week to the hearsay evidence presented against him in a pretrial hearing.

During 15 days that stretched from January into February, friends and relatives of the late Kathleen Savio, who was found dead in her bathtub in 2004, and Stacy Peterson, who disappeared last year, have testified in state court in Joliet, Ill., that the women said their husband on several occasions threatened to kill them, according to local news reports. Drew Peterson has pleaded not guilty.

Such hearsay evidence is often inadmissible, although there are exceptions to that standard in federal and common law and in a number of states. In response to the Peterson case, Illinois passed a law last year allowing hearsay statements from a person who is shown at a pretrial hearing by a preponderance of evidence to have been murdered by the defendant. To date, the new law hasn't been extensively tested, so there's little precedent for knowing how Judge Stephen White will rule.

Read the rest here.


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