Drew Peterson was sentenced to 38 years in prison on Thursday, five years after the former Illinois police officer made headlines for his third wife’s disappearance. Peterson, 59, was convicted in September of the 2004 murder of his wife, Kathleen Savio. He’s also suspected in the 2007 disappearance of his fourth wife Stacy Peterson, then 23, although he has not been charged in that crime.
Peterson startled the courtroom just minutes prior to his sentencing by abruptly shouting, “I did not kill Kathleen!”
Susan Doman, Savio’s sister, yelled back, “Yes you did! You liar!” before the judge had her escorted from the courtroom, according to the Associated Press.
Peterson entered the public eye for his brash, arrogant attitude, keeping it on display through the investigation in his relationships and even suggesting a “Win A Conjugal Visit With Drew” contest after he was arrested. Peterson has evaded the allegations that he killed Stacy Peterson, but the circumstances around her vanishing inspired detectives to revisit Savio’s death three years before.
Much of the publicity around his trial last year was fascinated with the idea that Peterson used his law enforcement background to cover up a string of murders. He claimed the court violated his constitutional rights and that the average American should be outraged.
“I'm an obnoxious man by nature, truly. And after 30 years as a police officer, as is normal with a police officer, my defense mechanism is comedy,” he said, according to the Chicago Tribune. “The media took that and capitalized on that, and my obnoxious nature showed through. But I want to ensure the court that at no time did I want to portray any insensitivity about Kathy's death. That was not my intention.”
That façade came crashing down on Thursday when Peterson addressed the court. His main target was lead prosecutor James Glasgow, who glared at Peterson as the murderer jabbed at him.
“You perpetrated the largest railroad job ever in this country,” Peterson said. “Never forget what you’ve done here.
“What they did uncover was rumors, gossip, outrageous lies, and most importantly, unreliable hearsay. Hearsay that pierced three privileges that have stood for centuries,” Peterson told the judge.
Glasgow responded later, telling reporters Peterson is a “cold-blooded killer” who murdered Savio to avoid financial ruin.
“We all got an opportunity to see a psychopath reveal himself in open court,” Glasgow said.
The case has garnered enough notoriety to warrant a made-for-TV movie starring Rob Lowe.
“It pretty much guaranteed that I would not get a fair trial. It's pretty clear that the state took part in that movie because things I remember saying only to the state police appeared in that movie,” Peterson said.