(CHICAGO SUN TIMES / FOX 32) - Former Bolingbrook cop Drew Peterson, already in prison for killing his third wife, was found guilty Tuesday of trying to hire a hit man to kill the prosecutor who had helped put him away, the Chicago Sun-Times is reporting.
As the verdict was read, Peterson sat and listened with his head resting on his left hand.
The jury had reached that verdict after deliberating less than an hour — so brief the judge was still at lunch when word came that they had reached a decision.
During closing arguments Tuesday morning, the prosecutor — pointing his finger like a dagger at Peterson — had told jurors to “find this man guilty.”
The former Bolingbrook cop was accused of trying to hire a hit man to kill Will County State’s Attorney James Glasgow while Peterson was locked up at Menard Correctional Center on the banks of the Mississippi River.
“A prosecutor deserves to go home at night and not worry about getting shot in the head because I did my job,” Randolph County State’s Attorney Jeremy Walker told the jury at the end of closing arguments.
Peterson crossed his legs and leaned back in his chair at times, listening to lawyers spend two hours summarizing the case for the jury. Peterson faces a minimum of 15 additional years in prison if the jury comes back with a guilty verdict. He was convicted in 2012 for the murder of Kathleen Savio, his third wife. He is serving a 38-year prison sentence, and his anticipated release date is in 2047, when Peterson would be 93.
Prosecutors say Peterson employed a Satan’s Disciple known as “Beast” — whose real name is Antonio Smith — to find someone to kill Glasgow in downtown Joliet for $10,000. Smith wore a wire on Peterson late in 2014, and Assistant Attorney General Steve Nate acknowledged he played so many recordings from that wire during the trial that jurors probably wanted to “throttle” him. But Nate said Peterson and his attorney “can’t get around the recordings, ladies and gentlemen. They can’t get around his own words.”
“He said it, he meant it, and he’s guilty,” Nate said.
But Peterson attorney Lucas Liefer mocked the case. He said the case was “muddied” when Glasgow’s office got involved at the start of the investigation. And he started his closing argument by telling jurors he could be Randolph County’s state’s attorney — if only Walker weren’t around.
“Oh my gosh, did I just commit solicitation of murder?” Liefer asked facetiously.
Walker later acted outraged by Liefer’s comments. But he pointed out Liefer hasn’t been convicted of murder, and he doesn’t have another murder case pending against him. Then he said the two counselors are friends — “I’m still gonna go have a drink with him,” Walker said of Liefer.
Meanwhile, Walker said Peterson had four motives driving him to have Glasgow killed: Peterson wanted to protect his pension; wanted to win his appeal; didn’t want to be charged with the murder of Stacy Peterson; and was mad that his son lost his job at the Oak Brook police department.
Prosecutors also played a recording of Peterson ranting at his sentencing hearing that Glasgow “perpetrated the largest railroad job that ever took place in this country.” And Nate said Peterson has a “deep hatred for James Glasgow.”
Peterson’s trial, which began last week, featured the first face-to-face confrontation between Peterson and Glasgow since Peterson’s February 2013 sentencing hearing. That’s when Peterson told Glasgow in his lengthy courtroom rant to “never forget my face, never forget what you have done here.” And in a surreal moment, Glasgow took the stand and read those words aloud to the jury as Peterson listened.
Peterson landed at the downstate county’s Menard Correctional Center a week after that sentencing hearing, and that’s when prosecutors say he befriended Smith. Smith turned out to be a scheming jailhouse informant who wore a wire on Peterson late in 2014, but Walker said that doesn’t make Smith a liar. Prosecutors said Peterson picked Smith because he could be manipulated, but possibly not trusted.
“The pope can’t buy dope,” Walker said. “The pope isn’t going to be contracted to kill somebody.”
Smith testified that Peterson “admitted to me that he killed Stacy Peterson” — a reference to Peterson’s fourth wife who vanished without a trace in 2007. However, that comment was allegedly made before Smith began recording Peterson. And on a recording, Peterson can be heard telling Smith that “Stacy’s still alive, running around out there.”
Liefer called that contradiction “proof positive” that Smith was lying. He also pointed out that jurors never explicitly heard Peterson ask Smith on tape to have Glasgow killed.
“How has the state met their burden of proof on a crime of words when the key words — ‘murder’ or ‘kill’ — are never spoken by the defendant?” Liefer said.
During a Nov. 13, 2014, recording, Smith questioned Peterson about his hope of getting out of prison “with Glasgow gone, right?”
Peterson said, “Yes, it’ll get me out.” Smith asked if “it’s a go, a 100 percent?” And Peterson replied, “It’s better.”
“Because what he’s doing is, he’s f——- beating me under the table,” Peterson said of Glasgow. “He’s calling these judges or going golfing with them or some f—— thing. So with that happening, how, how can you fight that?”
In a note written to Peterson, Smith also asked if Peterson “still needed Glasgow dead, so I’m just waiting for your green light on this project.”
Peterson allegedly wrote back, “My appeal is blowing the state’s case out of the water, but it’s almost impossible to fight the corrupt, under-the-table politics that’s going on. So nothing has changed. I’m praying for a bright future for our family. So let’s put a green light on all of our projects.”
Meanwhile, Peterson can also be heard on the recordings bellyaching about his murder trial, telling Smith he’s only behind bars because of his “idiot f—— lawyer, not ’cause Glasgow’s good.”
He also told Smith they would join a Mexican drug cartel if they ever got out of prison.
Attorney General Lisa Madigan issued a statement about the verdict on Tuesday.
“The evidence in this case was clear that the defendant plotted from jail to solicit the murder of State’s Attorney Jim Glasgow,” Madigan said in the statement. “I thank the members of the jury for their service, and I commend the prosecutors for their hard work and relentless commitment to bringing this case to a successful conclusion.”