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Associated Press, Published August 02 2012

Judge: No mistrial in Drew Peterson murder case

CHICAGO — A judge decided against declaring a mistrial in Drew Peterson's murder case Thursday, saying the former police officer still can get a fair trial despite prosecutors’ missteps.

The ruling by Judge Edward Burmila followed several blunders by prosecutors, who are seeking to prove the 58-year-old Peterson killed his third wife, Kathleen Savio, in 2004. He also is a suspect in the 2007 disappearance of his fourth wife, Stacy Peterson, but has never been charged in her case.

A furious Burmila admonished prosecutors Wednesday after the second witness in just their second day of testimony began talking about finding a .38-caliber bullet on his driveway. Thomas Pontarelli, a former neighbor of Savio's, hinted in his testimony that Peterson may have planted it there to intimidate him.

Prosecutors later admitted under tough questioning by the judge that there was no evidence to support the claim. And Burmila wondered aloud about whether the testimony made Peterson appear menacing in jurors’ eyes and undermined his ability to get a fair trial.

But after heated arguments by both sides Thursday morning, Burmila told attorneys that “the court believes that the defendant's ability to receive a fair trial is not extinguished at this time.”


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