In attempting to get hearsay statements admitted in former police officer Drew Peterson’s murder case, prosecutors from Illinois’ Will County yesterday found themselves arguing against the very law they helped create, reports the Chicago Tribune.
The proceedings – which were televised live, a first in state history – focused on prosecutors’ desire to admit several hearsay statements at trial. The statute requires judges to consider two things: whether the statement is reliable and whether the bulk of the evidence shows that the defendant made the witness unavailable to testify. Trial Judge Stephen White sided with prosecutors in finding that the preponderance of evidence suggested Peterson killed his third wife, Kathleen Savio, and caused his fourth wife Stacy Peterson’s disappearance. The “preponderance” standard does not imply that Peterson would be found guilty at trial because the burden of proof is lower than the beyond-reasonable-doubt standard imposed on juries.