Drew Peterson loved talking on television after his fourth wife mysteriously vanished, but he turned out to be none too eager to testify from the witness stand at his murder trial.
Peterson's lawyers rested their case Wednesday without the accused wife killer giving his side of the story. But Peterson didn't stand in the way of his 19-year-old son, Thomas Peterson, going up to testify.
Thomas, the son of Peterson and his slain third wife Kathleen Savio, didn't add much of substance to the case. He said he never suspected his father killed his mother, that Drew Peterson was "very, very shaken" after Savio turned up drowned in her dry bathtub in March 2004, and that he'd "never seen anyone so sad" as his father.
Thomas also said he bathed with his mother through the age of 6. Sometimes she put her hair up before getting in the tub, he said, and other times she left it down.
While Thomas Peterson's appearance may have been less than dramatic, the last day of the defense's case did feature the most explosive testimony in the trial, as Peterson attorney Joel Brodsky made the questionable decision to put Wheaton lawyer Harry Smith on the witness stand.
Brodsky apparently called on Smith, who represented Savio in her divorce from Peterson, in an attempt to tarnish the reputation of Peterson's missing fourth wife, Stacy Peterson, by painting her as a gold-digger looking to blackmail her husband.
Instead, Brodsky repeatedly let the jury hear how Stacy supposedly told Smith that Peterson killed Savio.
Just minutes into Smith's testimony—and before he mentioned anything about Peterson killing Savio—Brodsky asked Judge Edward Burmila to declare that Smith was an "adverse witness."
The judge refused at first but later ruled that Smith could be treated as a hostile witness.
A rattled Brodsky then stammered through his questioning of Smith. At one point, Brodsky accused Smith of looking to prosecutors for cues about what to say. He also complained to the judge that Smith was making faces.
Smith beamed broadly at Brodsky throughout his testimony.
In the middle of Smith's turn on the witness stand, the jury was removed from the courtroom so Brodsky and co-counsel Steve Greenberg could rant about Smith's testimony. Greenberg called Smith a liar and said he wanted him charged with perjury.
Smith wasn't charged with perjury. He also continued his testimony.
He told how Stacy called his office on Oct. 24, 2007, and inquired about hiring him to represent her in a planned divorce from Peterson. She wanted to take their two children—as well as the two boys born to Savio—and move out of Illinois, he said.
"Throughout the conversation she said she had information on Drew Peterson," Smith said. "She wanted to leave the state with the children and she said she had information that could help her in getting that done."
Brodsky asked him what that information was, and Smith told him, "She wanted to know if the fact that he killed Kathy could be used against him" in the divorce.
Brodsky and Greenberg said this statement differed drastically from Smith's testimony at a 2010 pretrial hearing. On that occasion Smith said Stacy asked him, "Could we get more money if we threatened to to tell the police how he killed Kathy?" according to a transcript read aloud by Assistant State's Attorney John Connor.
"It's the same thing," Connor argued.
Smith also said Stacy told him she had "so much s--- on Drew at the police department that he couldn't do anything to her."
Peterson was a Bolingbrook police sergeant when Savio died and Stacy later disappeared.
In the middle of his questioning of Smith, Brodsky tipped a wink to Peterson.
While being cross-examined by Connor, Smith mentioned how Stacy told him "Drew was pissed at her because he thought she told (his son) Tom he killed Kathleen."
Peterson was tracking Stacy through her cell phone GPS system, Smith said she told him, and he was also "surveilling" her.
Smith then told how his telephone conversation with Stacy abruptly ended when Peterson came looking for her.
"He called to her and asked her what she was doing and who she was talking to," said Smith. Peterson then called to Stacy a second time "to rush her off the phone and get her in," he said.
Brodsky accused Smith of knowing Stacy was plotting to blackmail Peterson.
"You told her, 'Be careful,' because she could get arrested for extortion," Brodsky said.
"I did tell her to be careful, but not for extortion," Smith said.
"What could she get arrested for?" Brodsky asked, and Smith told him, "Concealing a homicide."
Stacy mysteriously vanished just days after her phone call to Smith.
Brodsky's day actually hit a bump a few hours before Smith took the witness stand and sent it off the rails.
Right after he went outside the courthouse for his midday adress to the media, Brodsky was ambushed by a former friend of Peterson who says she turned on him to work for the Illinois State Police.
"I'm the informant who spent seven months with Drew Peterson," said Paula Stark, who interrupted Brodsky's press conference and sent him scurrying from a bank of microphones.
Stark and her husband, Len Wawczak, say they wore wires for the state police to surreptitiously record Peterson. Stark said the recordings will be used as evidence if Peterson is charged in connection with the disappearance of his fourth wife, Stacy Peterson.
"I learned that Drew's a murderer," Stark said of her time with Peterson.
She also said he was cruel to his children.
"Every time they brought up their mother, he told them to shut up and go to their rooms," Stark said.
Stark also said Stacy's young son, Anthony, secretly kept a hidden picture of his mother in his room.
Stark and Wawczak were left to watch Peterson's children when he took trips out of town to appear on talk shows.
Stark said Thomas Peterson, who testified Wednesday afternoon, deep down believes that his father killed his mother.
Stark told how Peterson once called Thomas a "faggot" after Thomas complained about his father's cooking.
Stark also told of a letter to Santa Claus written by Peterson and Savio's younger son, Kristopher Peterson, when he was about 10.
In the letter, Kristopher asked Santa to stop his father from beating his mother and to give his mother the divorce she wanted, she said.
"If Tom says anything positive about his father, it's all lies," Stark said.
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