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Friday, August 08, 2008

Drew Petersons' lawyer drops probate fight

July 18, 2008

JOLIET -- In May, the lawyers representing Drew Peterson and his uncle asked a Will County judge to stop until a later date the court proceedings in Kathleen Savio's newly reopened probate case.

Then they changed their minds. It was an unusual and unexpected move.
Savio, 40, was the third wife of now-retired Bolingbrook police officer Drew Peterson, 54. On March 1, 2004, she was found dead in a dry bathtub at her Bolingbrook home. Despite a cut on the back of her head and her blood-soaked hair, a coroner's jury decided that she died accidentally.

When Peterson's fourth wife, Stacy Peterson, then 23, disappeared in late October, authorities decided to reconsider the bathtub death.

Authorities exhumed Savio's body, performed new autopsies and decided that the mother of two actually was the victim of a homicide.
Motion withdrawnAround 3 p.m. Wednesday, Joel Brodsky faxed the Savio family's lawyers a letter explaining that he had withdrawn his motion requesting a stay of the proceedings -- his request to bring the probate case to a stop.

The Savio family activated the probate case so they could file a wrongful death lawsuit.

Will County Judge Carmen Goodman had scheduled a 10 a.m. Thursday hearing so both sides could argue the merits of stopping the Savio probate case or allowing it to proceed. By 10:25 a.m., only two lawyers were there: Martin Glink, the Arlington Heights lawyer who is representing the Savio family along with Larry Varsek of Joliet, and Chrystel Gavlin, a court-appointed lawyer who, in effect, is working on behalf of Savio and Peterson's two minor children.
Neither Varsek nor Brodsky was in court.

When Goodman took the bench, she explained the situation. "Apparently there was a fax that was sent," the judge said. "They are withdrawing their motion to stay."

No other court dates had been scheduled, so the probate case wouldn't be heard again until someone made that request, Goodman said.

Outside the courtroom, Glink said he didn't know why Brodsky did an about-face.
"I imagine (they)... are waiting to see what the appellate court would do," he said.

'More like a gift'
A wrongful death lawsuit has yet to be filed in the Savio case. But if that eventually happens, Brodsky won't be mad. "It is more like a gift than a problem," he said Thursday morning.
And that's why he gave up his opposition to the probate proceedings. A wrongful death lawsuit would give him the opportunity to question state police and others who know something about Savio or Stacy.

Although no criminal charges have been filed in the third wife's death or the fourth's disappearance, the state still is investigating both incidents. So Brodsky and Peterson don't know what the state has learned. A wrongful death lawsuit could throw a little light on the subject.
"It would almost be like a private grand jury," Brodsky said. No matter what happens in civil or criminal court, Brodsky and Peterson aren't worried, apparently. "We are confident that we have developed enough evidence through our own investigation that we could not just disprove ... we could prove (Peterson's) innocence (as related to Savio's death)," Brodsky said.

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