CHICAGO – An attorney claiming to represent Drew Peterson filed a motion this week asking a judge to toss his conviction for murdering his third wife, arguing that the lead trial attorney botched the case.
But the lawyer targeted in the court document shot back Wednesday, saying he spoke to the former suburban Chicago police officer in jail and that Peterson disavowed the filing.
“It’s ridiculous. It’s bizarre,” said Joel Brodsky, Peterson’s longtime attorney who led the defense during the month-and-a-half long trial.
The filing was submitted by Chicago-area attorney John Paul Carroll, who wasn’t involved at Peterson’s trial. Carroll conceded Wednesday that Peterson sounded hesitant about the filing.
“I asked if he wanted me to go ahead,” Carroll said. “He sat there looking at his shoes, then said, ‘Yeah, go ahead.’ ” Carroll said he technically didn’t need Peterson’s permission and, if he had to, might have filed the motion even without Peterson’s OK.
A hearing is scheduled Friday to address the matter, Carroll said. He said Peterson’s intentions should become clear then, but added: “If he abandons it, I think he’d be silly.”
Peterson, 58, gained notoriety by hitting the talk-show circuit after his fourth wife, 23-year-old Stacy Peterson, vanished in 2007. Her disappearance eventually led to him being charged in the 2004 death of his third wife, Kathleen Savio, whose body was found in her bathtub with a gash on the back of her head.
Peterson is scheduled to be sentenced Nov. 26 for Savio’s murder. Peterson faces a maximum 60-year prison sentence. He has not been charged in the disappearance of Stacey Peterson.
Among the allegations in Carroll’s filing is that Brodsky misled his client about the extent of his trial experience and that he called a witness whose testimony backfired on the defense. It also alleges that Brodsky duped Peterson into thinking that generating publicity before trial would help win an acquittal.
“Instead, the publicity dramatically increased the possibility of a conviction,” the filing argues.
On Wednesday, Brodsky said the allegations “are an absolute fantasy.” He said Carroll had neither the authority nor approval from Peterson to file the motion, and that Carroll had gone to the jail to talk to Peterson about legal issues regarding his police pension.
Motions to overturn convictions by blaming an attorney for bungling the case at trial are rarely granted, since judges set a high bar for defendants seeking a new trial on those grounds.