Judge to rule on Drew Peterson’s firearms Thursday

Danya Hooker

A Will County judge will decide Thursday whether 11 firearms seized from Drew Peterson’s home in November will stay in the hands of Illinois State Police or be returned to the family.

Peterson’s attorney Joel Brodsky has asked the court to allow his client’s son Stephen, an Oak Brook police officer, to hold onto the weapons while Peterson appeals the Illinois State Police’s decision to revoke his firearm owner’s identification card.

The firearms  were seized from Peterson’s home Nov. 1 -- along with two vehicles, several computers, and other items -- while police carried out a search warrant as part of their investigation into the Oct. 28 disappearance of Peterson’s fourth wife Stacy, then 23.

Drew Peterson’s lawyer Joel Brodsky began petitioning the court in December to order the items returned. Brodsky argued that all necessary forensic testing on the items could be completed within a matter of weeks.

Will County Judge Richard Schoenstedt granted Brodsky’s request March 17 and ordered police to return all items. But Illinois State Police, at the request of Will County State’s Attorney James Glasgow, revoked Peterson’s FOID card the next day, rendering Schoenstedt’s decision moot in regard to the firearms.

Brodsky said his client has appealed the revocation, but wants Stephen Peterson to take control of the firearms in the meantime. Schoenstedt is expected to rule on the request Thursday.

Brodsky said he has asked Stephen Peterson to appear in court Thursday after a series of conversations with the state’s attorney’s office led Brodsky to believe his presence might be needed in the event the judge rules in favor of the petition.

“Ultimately it’s the judge’s decision, but that's our expectation,” Brodsky said.

Prosecutors argued that handing the guns over to Peterson’s son would put the Oak Brook police officer in an awkward position of being a law enforcement official in possession of possible evidence.

Will County State’s Attorney’s office spokesman Charles Pelkie declined to comment on Thursday’s hearing except to say that authorities are “looking forward to hearing the judge’s ruling.”

Brodsky said the go-ahead to have Stephen Peterson appear in court is another sign the judge will again grant his request and that the state’s case against his client is weak.

“The state police have been saying over and over again that they think that Drew's going to be arrested and charged and convicted,” Brodsky said. “But [any judge] that objectively looks at the case realizes, or at least enters these rulings favorable to Drew.”

Peterson has been named a suspect in the disappearance, which police are calling a “potential homicide.” Soon after the young mother went missing, police began investigating the mysterious 2004 drowning of Peterson’s third wife Kathleen Savio.

A six-person coroner’s jury ruled the death accidental in 2004. Savio’s body was exhumed in November and two pathologists, one at the request of Savio’s family and one on behalf of Will County, performed separate autopsies. Each recently ruled the drowning a homicide.

Savio’s family has also asked another Will County court to reopen the estate in preparation for a possible wrongful death lawsuit against Peterson. Attorneys for both sides are expected to present their first arguments in that case Thursday morning.

Danya Hooker can be reached at