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February 19, 2013

Peterson case returns with hearing for new trial

(Continued)

The current acrimony is in stark contrast with the beginning of the trial, when the limelight-seeking defense team faced the media horde together. Several times, they insisted that Stacy Peterson — whose body was never found — could show up any day to take the stand.

If Brodsky takes the stand Tuesday, he could face aggressive cross-examination by Greenberg and his other erstwhile colleagues. There's even an outside chance Peterson could be asked testify.

Among the accusations against Brodsky, chief is that he was so bent on publicizing himself that he pressed Peterson into a damaging pretrial media blitz.

But the hearing's focus is expected to be a decision that backfired during trial — calling divorce lawyer Harry Smith to be a witness for the defense. Greenberg says that was Brodsky's decision; Brodsky says all the defense lawyers agreed on it.

Under questioning by Brodsky, Smith told jurors that Stacy Peterson had asked him a question before she vanished: Could she squeeze more money out of her husband in divorce proceedings if she threatened to tell police that he murdered Savio three years earlier?

Brodsky hoped Smith's testimony that Stacy Peterson allegedly sought to extort her husband would dent the credibility of statements she made to others that Drew Peterson threatened to kill her.

Savio's death was initially deemed an accident, a freak slip in the tub. But after Stacy Peterson vanished, Savio's body was re-examined and her death was reclassified as a homicide.

During Smith's testimony, he repeatedly stressed how Stacy Peterson seemed to sincerely believe her husband had killed Savio. Prosecutors could barely contain their joy, with chief state's prosecutor James Glasgow calling it "a gift from God." And some jurors said later that Smith's testimony persuaded them to convict Drew Peterson.

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