Drew Peterson held his tongue for nearly four years after being charged with the murder of his third wife, Kathleen Savio. But just before he learned how long he was going to spend in prison, he let it all out.
"I didn't kill Kathleen!" a deranged Peterson screamed from the witness stand.
Savio's sister, Susan Doman, shouted back at Peterson, saying, "Yes you did," and called him a liar.
Sheriff's deputies ejected Doman and Peterson, 59, was allowed to continue his rant, stopping only when he was overcome by emotion and choking back tears.
Judge Edward Burmila, who as soon as Peterson was done talking sentenced the disgraced former Bolingbrook cop to 38 years in prison, warned Peterson not to indulge in another "outburst."
Peterson told the judge he "must have been woozy," taking a shot at Will County State's Attorney James Glasgow, who said the same thing to Burmila during Peterson's murder trial this summer.
Peterson also accused Glasgow of conspiring with the Illinois State Police to frame him by falsifying police reports, altering evidence and crafting new laws. Peterson did not explain why Glasgow and the state cops went to such lengths to set him up, but did note that "Everybody lies."
Peterson also attacked his slain wife's family, claiming Savio was "psychologically damaged" by the emotional, physical and sexual abuse she was subjected to by various members of her family.
"At 16 years old she was put out on her own, like a dog that was tied to a tree you don't want anymore," Peterson said of Savio.
Peterson also said Savio's family stole money given to him to cover what he paid for her funeral. Then it was Savio's brother's turn to call Peterson a liar. The brother, Henry Savio, also was thrown out of the courtroom. Peterson called out to Henry Savio that he still has the receipts from the funeral, presumably at his home in Bolingbrook and not in his cell at the Will County jail.
Racked with sobs, Peterson went on to complain about the way celebrity medical examiner Michael Baden conducted an autopsy on Savio's body after it was pulled from its grave soon after Peterson's fourth wife, Stacy Peterson, mysteriously vanished in October 2007.
"He took the head of the mother of my children," Peterson exclaimed.
"He cut off the head of the mother of my children and he put it on a counter so that the TV producer has to see it, to take pictures, to sensationalize the moment for a TV show," Peterson said.
Prosecutors dispute this ever happened.
Before Peterson launched his tirade, Judge Burmila declared that he was not granting a new trial for Peterson, whose lawyers claim he was deprived of a fair shake due to the allegedly poor performance of former lead attorney Joel Brodsky.
Burmila agreed that it was "clear to the court from the very beginning that Mr. Brodsky was out of his depth," and that he "did not have the lawyerly skills" to handle the case. But he also pointed out that Peterson was represented during his trial by five other attorneys.
Peterson did not mention Brodsky during his rant, but did go after the news media, whose attention he and his lawyer seemed to love before he was found guilty of murder and Brodsky was off the case. He also decried "that ridiculous movie that was played right before my trial."
The and was based on the true crime sensation Fatal Vows: The Tragic Wives of Sergeant Drew Peterson.
"When this happened, I thought I'd be found to be a great guy, but within moments the media turned me into a monster," Peterson said. "First chance I get, I’m going get a tattoo on my back from shoulder to shoulder, and it’s going to read, 'No good deed goes unpunished.'"
After Peterson's spectacle, Glasgow said, "I've never seen a more pathetic display until today."
"That shrill kind of feminine screech that he didn't kill Kathy, that's who killed Kathy," Glasgow said.
For all Peterson's sobbing on the stand, he composed himself immediately after stepping down and was laughing and talking to county deputies after the hearing ended and the courtroom was cleared.
Since he was locked up in May 2009, Peterson said he has twice battled skin cancer and has been stricken with high blood pressure and high cholesterol. He attributes the blood pressure and cholesterol problems to the jail food he has been eating for almost four years.
"I tell you this to give you greater cause for celebration when you celebrate the fact that you perpetrated the greatest railroad job in the history of this country," Peterson said.
Peterson attorney Steve Greenberg agreed that his client was railroaded, and predicted the case would be sent back to Joliet on appeal within two years. Peterson will spend those two years in prison, and may be taken from the county jail to Stateville Correctional Center as early as Friday. On Thursday, he sounded less than enthusiastic about the prospect of being sent "to the department of corrections to die."
"I hope Mr. Glasgow looks me in the eye right now," Peterson said before wrapping things up Thursday afternoon.
"I'll never forget what you've done here," he said. "Now it's time to send an innocent man to a life of hardship and abuse in prison. I don't deserve this. I don't deserve this. Thank you."
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