Retired judge testifies, blames Peterson lawyer for conviction - New York News

Retired judge testifies, blames ex-Peterson lawyer for conviction

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JOLIET, Ill. (FOX 32 News) -

A decision by Drew Peterson's then-lead attorney to call one particular witness at the former police officer's murder trial may have led to Peterson's conviction, a retired judge testified Wednesday at a hearing to decide if Peterson should get a new trial in the death of his third wife.

The former judge, who is not otherwise connected to the case, took the stand as Peterson's current legal team sought to persuade a Will County judge to give Peterson a new trial. Peterson's current attorneys contend his former attorney, Joel Brodsky, badly botched his 2012 trial.

Peterson is also a suspect in the 2007 disappearance of this fourth wife, 23-year-old Stacy Peterson, but has never been charged in that case.

On Wednesday, his attorneys argued over a host of evidence but focused on the decision to call a witness whose testimony may have sealed Peterson's conviction.

Joel Brodsky, Drew Peterson's former lead attorney, was the target of a lot of courtroom criticism Wednesday from other defense attorneys for what they say was his decision to call Harry Smith.

Smith's testimony convinced jurors that Peterson was guilty of murdering his third wife Kathleen Savio.

Peterson's attorney Steve Greenberg called that an awful decision that ruined the case. That, he said, is proof Peterson had ineffective representation and deserves a new trial.

"If you put in a statement that your client committed a murder it's ineffective," Greenberg said.

Brodsky read from emails from other attorneys to bolster his claims that calling Smith was a joint decision, and that he wasn't a dictator as he was labeled in court.

"The night after Harry Smith's called, from Joe, Mr. Lopez, talking about Harry Smith's testimony, quote: ‘Harry was the break we needed,'" Brodsky said.

It will be up to the judge to decide whether the evidence warrants a new trial. It is a decision legal experts consider unlikely.

If that motion is denied, the case will move right into the sentencing phase. The judge will hear from members of the Savio family and then hand down Peterson's penalty.

Peterson will find out Thursday whether he will get a new trial for the murder of his third wife or be sentenced.

Peterson faces between 20 and 60 years in prison.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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