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updated: 8/27/2012 2:39 PM

Judge rejects Peterson acquittal request

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  • In this courtroom sketch, Drew Peterson, foreground, looks on, as Will County State's Attorney James Glasgow gives his opening statement before Judge Edward Burmila and jurors, Tuesday, July 31, 2012, in Joliet, Ill., in Peterson's murder trial. Peterson is charged in the 2004 death of his third wife Kathleen Savio.

      In this courtroom sketch, Drew Peterson, foreground, looks on, as Will County State's Attorney James Glasgow gives his opening statement before Judge Edward Burmila and jurors, Tuesday, July 31, 2012, in Joliet, Ill., in Peterson's murder trial. Peterson is charged in the 2004 death of his third wife Kathleen Savio.
    Tom Gianni

  • Drew Peterson

      Drew Peterson
    Associated Press

 
Associated Press

An Illinois judge has rejected a defense request to acquit former Illinois police officer Drew Peterson before the case goes to a jury.

Defense attorneys asked for a directed verdict after prosecutors rested Monday. Such motions ask the judge himself to render a not guilty verdict before jurors even deliberate.

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Peterson has pleaded not guilty to first-degree murder in the 2004 death of his third wife, Kathleen Savio. He was only charged after his fourth wife, Stacy Peterson, disappeared in 2007.

To grant a directed verdict, the judge must conclude the state fell far short of proving their case. Judges rarely grant such motion but Peterson's case has been unique.

Prosecutors presented no physical evidence linking Peterson to Savio's death and relied on normally barred hearsay.

Also Monday, prosecutors entered as evidence a letter from Savio, who wrote she feared he could kill her.

Prosecutors entered the letter Monday as they wound down their four-week presentation.

Savio wrote the letter to a prosecutor in 2002 amid the couple's acrimonious divorce. It's often rambling and angry as she describes an incident in which she says Peterson put a knife to her throat. Savio says in the letter that she thought she was about to die.

Savio's body was found in her bathtub, and her death was initially ruled an accident. Her death was only ruled a homicide after Peterson's fourth wife, Stacy Peterson, went missing in 2007.

The judge at Drew Peterson's murder trial has joined the Chicago Cubs' detractors.

He noted as proceedings began Monday that most jurors were wearing sports jerseys. A few had jerseys on with the insignia of the Cubs' cross town rivals, the Chicago White Sox.

Judge Edward Burmila told jurors that they were clearly intelligent because, in his words, "nobody has any Cubs clothes on."

Peterson's trial is taking place south of Chicago, where many residents are White Sox fans.

The Peterson jurors have been coordinating what they wear each day. On Monday, all wore sports jerseys. Along with Sox gear, some donned Chicago Bears jerseys.

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