Wednesday, May 22, 2013
The Associated Press
JOLIET, Ill. - Drew Peterson -- the swaggering Chicago-area police officer who gained notoriety after his much-younger fourth wife vanished in 2007 -- was sentenced to 38 years in prison Thursday for murdering his third wife.
The sentence came moments after Peterson shocked the courtroom with a rare public outburst of anger as he proclaimed his innocence in the death of Kathleen Savio.
"I did not kill Kathleen!" he shouted at the top of his lungs, emphasizing every word.
Peterson seemed to look across the courtroom at Savio's family. Savio's sister Susan Doman shot back "Yes, you did. You liar!" before the judge ordered sheriff's deputies to remove her from the courtroom.
Illinois does not have the death penalty, and the 59-year-old Peterson had faced a maximum 60-year prison term.
Jurors convicted Peterson in September in Savio's 2004 death. Neighbors found the 40-year-old's body in a bathtub at home with a gash on her head.
Peterson is also a suspect in the disappearance of Stacy Peterson -- who was 23 when she vanished -- but he hasn't been charged in her case. It was her disappearance that led authorities to take another look at Savio's death and eventually reclassify it from an accident to a homicide.
Fascination nationwide with Peterson arose from speculation he sought to use his law enforcement expertise to get away with murder.
After his outburst, Peterson addressed the judge with a rambling speech, claiming he had been railroaded. He aimed some of his anger at lead prosecutor James Glasgow, saying sarcastically that Glasgow could now celebrate because he had destroyed Peterson's life.
"You perpetrated the largest railroad job ever in this country," Peterson told him. Minutes later, Peterson challenged Glasgow to look him in the eyes. Glasgow, who had been taking notes, laid down his pen, folded his arms and looked straight back at Peterson.
"Never forget what you've done here," Peterson said, gritting his teeth.