Closing arguments to begin in Peterson trial

Drew Peterson

(CNN) — Closing arguments begin Tuesday in the trial of Drew Peterson, a former Chicago-area police sergeant accused of killing his ex-wife.

Peterson, 58, is charged with the murder of Kathleen Savio, his third wife, who was found dead in her dry, clean bathtub March 1, 2004.

The case did not arise until after Peterson’s fourth wife, Stacy, went missing in October 2007. It was during the search for Stacy Peterson, who has never been found, that investigators said they would look again at Savio’s death, which was initially ruled a drowning.

Savio’s death was ruled a homicide in February 2008, and Peterson was later arrested and indicted on first-degree murder.

Peterson was married to Savio in 2001 when he had an affair with then-17-year-old Stacy Cales, whom he would later marry. Savio and Peterson filed for divorce in October 2001 and their relationship remained contentious for the next several years.

Bolingbrook police records indicate officers were called to Savio’s home 18 times to intervene in domestic fights from 2002 to 2004. Peterson had Savio arrested twice for domestic violence, though she was found not guilty in both cases.

On February 27, 2004, Peterson picked up his two sons from Savio’s home, spending the next two days with them. Prosecutors believe that he entered her home again early on February 29 and killed Savio.

At the time of her death, which authorities initially treated as an accident, a court was mulling how the couple’s marital assets would be divided, and Savio was set to receive part of Peterson’s pension and other support.

The defense contends Savio fell accidentally, hit her head, and drowned.

The month-long trial has been marked by repeated missteps by the prosecution that have angered Judge Edward Burmila and the defense.

At least four times since the trial began, prosecutors have allowed witnesses to testify to details Burmila has told them not to go into — such as whether Savio had a protective order against her husband or allowing a witness to demonstrate climbing into a bathtub.

In some cases the defense has sought a mistrial and in others they have asked the judge to strike entire testimony. Burmila has instead ordered the jury to disregard elements of the testimony that went against his orders.

“The disrespect to the court is shocking,” Burmila told the prosecution last week.

After closing arguments, jury deliberation could start as early as Tuesday afternoon.

In Session’s Michael Christian contributed to this report.

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