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February 19, 2013

Peterson case returns with hearing for new trial

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CHICAGO (AP) — Drew Peterson's defense lawyers were a united, wisecracking front during most of the former suburban Chicago police officer's 2012 trial, and rarely without their dark sunglasses. But by the time Peterson was found guilty of killing his third wife, the counsel's bond was irreparably fractured.

The public verbal sparring between former lead trial counsel Joel Brodsky and colleague-turned-nemesis Steve Greenberg will come to a head Tuesday at a hearing in Will County. The defense plans to argue that Peterson deserves a new trial because Brodsky botched the first.

If Will County Judge Edward Burmila rejects the motion for a retrial, he has said he will move on to the sentencing phase. Peterson, 59, faces a maximum 60-year prison term for murdering Kathleen Savio, who was found dead in her bathtub with a gash on her head.

The legal team's infighting is the latest twist in the peculiar saga of the former Bolingbrook police sergeant, who gained notoriety after his much younger fourth wife, Stacy Peterson, vanished in 2007.

Disagreements among the counsel during trial are not uncommon, said Chicago-area defense attorney Gal Pissetzky, but such spats spilling into public view are.

"A new team of lawyers might accuse an old team of lawyers of making mistakes at the trial — but lawyers on the same trial team blaming each other? I've never heard of anything like this," he said. Pissetzky is not connected to the Peterson case.

The feud escalated earlier this month when Brodsky filed a defamation lawsuit against Greenberg, which claims Greenberg became "irrationally fixated and obsessed with destroying Brodsky" and held Brodsky up to "great public scorn, hatred, contempt (and) ridicule."

In an open letter to Brodsky in September, Greenberg accused him of "single-handedly" losing the trial, adding he "wafted the greatest case by ignorance, obduracy and ineptitude."

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