Will Drew Peterson Be Condemned From the Grave?

Drew Peterson is facing words from the grave that could send him to jail for the rest of his life.

Peterson, the 56-year-old ex-cop who loved to talk, has been silent for the last year -- locked up -- charged with killing his third wife, Kathleen Savio, whose body was found in a bathtub in 2004.

From Beyond the Grave
Will Peterson Be Condemned From the Grave?

The prosecution's case against Peterson is being constructed around Savio -- in an unprecedented attempt to use hearsay evidence from the dead.

"It is being built on the words, the alleged words, the unproven words of a dead person being conveyed through her friends, relatives and acquaintances," said Peterson's attorney, Joel Brodsky.

The pre-trial hearing came to an end Friday, after the judge heard testimony from more than 60 witnesses, including Savio's family and friends, who say that Savio told them she expected her husband to kill her.


The hearing centered on a 2008 Illinois state law, dubbed "Drew's Law," which allows for hearsay evidence in first-degree murder cases if prosecutors can show a defendant killed a victim to prevent him or her from testifying.

Savio's sister, Susan Doman, who testified in the pre-trial hearing earlier this month, said Savio predicted Peterson would kill her.

"She said, 'Drew is going to kill me and it's going to look like an accident...He can make me disappear,'" Doman recalled.

Peterson, who was charged in connection with the death of Savio in May 2009, has pleaded not guilty to her murder.

VIDEO: A body was found in a barrel on the banks of the Illinois River.

Drew Peterson: 'I Was a Smart Ass'

"Nightline" sat down for an interview with Drew Peterson in January 2009, when the former Illinois cop was under siege from the media after his fourth wife, Stacy Peterson, disappeared in 2007.

Peterson was named a person-of-interest and shortly thereafter police re-opened the case surrounding Kathleen's death in 2004, which had originally been ruled an accident.

VIDEO: Lisa Ward talks about the 10 years she lived with Drew Peterson.

Savio's body was exhumed as part of lengthy police investigation when Stacy Peterson went missing.

Witnesses: Kathleen Savio Feared Drew Peterson

When asked about his relationship with Savio, Peterson called it "very comical" and "witty," but later admitted it was tempestuous -- and that police were called to their house on 18 separate occasions.

"I was a smart ass. She'd get mad at me for something. She'd be going off on a rampage and instead of calming her down, I'd look at her and go, 'Let me talk to Kathy now. I can't do this.' It would set her off even worse," he told Bashir.

VIDEO: Drew Petersons lawyer says the former cop is honest.

Peterson said he enraged Savio. "It was just what came out. I didn't do it on purpose. I didn't want it to happen, but that's what flew out," he told ABC News.

Dorman said she was aware of the couple's troubles, but said nothing at the time. Given Peterson's position in local law enforcement, Doman said it would have been nearly impossible to inform the police of the suspected threats against her sister's life.

"How could I inform the police?" she said. "Drew was the police. He controlled everything."

Drew Peterson and Kathleen Savio divorced in 2002. Two years later, Peterson said he raised the alarm and rushed to her house after Savio failed to return his calls.

"I heard screaming upstairs and her friend Mary went upstairs and she was dead in the bathtub," Peterson said. "I checked for life signs and I knew at that particular time I didn't belong there, so I called for additional police units to show up and take charge of the scene."

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