Posted Jun 15, 2012 01:40 pm CDT
An Illinois judge said Thursday he will order a lawyer for an alleged murder victim to testify about inculpatory statements she made before her drowning death, if the lawyer is called to the stand.
Judge Edward Burmila of Will County ruled Thursday in the murder case against Drew Peterson, charged with killing his ex-wife, Kathleen Savio, who drowned in 2004, report the Chicago Sun-Times, the Chicago Tribune and the Associated Press.
Burmila ruled that Wheaton lawyer Harry Smith must testify about “inculpatory” statements made by Savio during two domestic battery cases Peterson brought against her, the Tribune says. She was acquitted in both cases. Peterson defense lawyers surmised the “inculpatory” reference meant Savio lied under oath.
Burmila has previously ruled that Smith could testify that Savio had told him of her fears that Peterson would kill her. Peterson is also a suspect in the disappearance of his fourth wife, Stacy Peterson, but he has not been charged.
Smith could decline to testify, resulting in an appellate battle over whether he could be held in contempt, the Tribune says.