Drew Peterson, the retired Illinois police sergeant who was accused of drowning his third wife, was sentenced to 38 years in prison on Thursday. In a memorable moment in court, Peterson shockingly screamed, “I did not kill Kathleen!” before the judge announced his sentence. Here’s what you need to know about Drew Peterson.
1. Drew Peterson Was Sentenced to 38 Years in Prison
Drew Peterson was sentenced to 38 years in prison on Thursday for the murder of his third wife, Kathleen Savio. On March 1, Savio’s body was found in a waterless bathtub and her death was initially ruled as an accidental drowning. It wasn’t until the disappearance of his fourth wife that the case was reopened and medical examiners concluded that she died of drowning following a struggle.
2. He Screamed in Court, “I Did Not Kill Kathleen!”
Moments before he was sentenced, Peterson screamed in court, “I did not kill Kathleen!” According the Miami Herald, lead state prosecutor James Glasgow described the scream as a shrill screech and said that it exposed Peterson as a murderer. The following is Peterson’s appeal in court before he was sentenced.
“Good day, my name is Drew Peterson. I hope I don’t aggravate the situation here, but I have a lot of things to be said.” Then he screamed, “I did not kill Kathleen!”
3. His Dead Wife’s Sister Shouted Back
“Yes, you did! You liar!” a woman in court hollered back.
The woman was Susan Doman, Savio’s sister, and the judge ordered her to be removed from the courtroom.
4. Peterson’s Fourth Wife Disappeared
In 2007, Peterson’s fourth wife, Stacy Peterson, disappeared and was never found. Peterson claims that Stacey called him before she disappeared to tell him that she left him for another man. However, Rev. Neil Schori testified that Stacey confided to him that she lied to police about Savio’s slaying and that she was scared of her husband.
5. He is a Retired Police Sergeant
Drew Peterson is a retired Bolingbrook, Illinois police sergeant. He began working with the police department in 1977 and was assigned to the Metropolitan Area Narcotics Squad. In 1979, he received a “Police Officer of The Year” award from his department.
6. He Faced 60 Years in Prison
Illinois does not have a death penalty, but Peterson faced a maximum 60-year prison sentence. Judge Edward Burmila gave him 38 years for consideration for his years as a police officer and for his service in the military.
7. Peterson Claims He is Innocent
Peterson argued that he was convicted by “rumors, gossip, outrageous lies and, most importantly, unreliable hearsay.” He insisted that he is the victim of an unjust police investigation that ignored or lost evidence that could have proven him as innocent.
“What they did uncover was rumors, gossip, outrageous lies, and most importantly, unreliable hearsay. Hearsay that pierced three privileges that have stood for centuries,” Peterson said in court.
8. He Was Denied a New Trial
Peterson’s legal team argued that he should get a new trial because Peterson’s longtime lead attorney, Joel Brodsky, called a witness whose testimony ended up helping the prosecution. Brodsky called divorce attorney Harry Smith to the stand who testified that Peterson’s fourth wife, Stacey, told him that her husband killed Kathleen Savio. Peterson was denied a new trial and the testimony led to his conviction.
9. Peterson Challenged the Prosecutor to a Stare-Down
After Peterson was sentenced, he challenged Glasgow to stare him in the eyes and said, “Never forget what you’ve done here.” Glasgow who had been taking notes, set his pen down, crossed his arms and stared back at Peterson.
“I was thinking, ‘You’re a cold-blooded murderer and I’ll stare you down until I die,’” Glasgow later told reporters.
10. His Story Inspired a TV Movie
Drew Peterson’s story inspired the movie Untouchable, directed by Mikael Salomon and starring Rob Lowe.