I can't think of more than a handful of people (seriously deluded ones) who wouldn't like to see the smirk wiped off of Drew Peterson's face. Surely some folks cheered in front of their television sets when they learned "I'm So Sexy" Peterson lost his opportunity to be a star of "Cathouse," the HBO reality brothel show filmed at the Nevada brothel known as the "Moonlight Bunny Ranch." Cops showed up at near Peterson's home today, stopped his vehicle, and carted Drew off to the much less entertaining venue known as jail.
"Nobody Actually Thinks You're Sexy" Peterson will be cavorting with lifers instead of hookers if the prosecution succeeds in convicting him of murdering his third wife, Kathleen Savio, the wife who was found dead in the bathtub (not the wife who went missing in 2007 . . . or the one who had her car brakes tampered with . . . or the one who says he wasn't really that bad a character when she was married to him).
I hope Drew Peterson gets what's coming to him. I think he is guilty as heck of making Stacy Peterson, Wife Number Four disappear. I think he is likely guilty as heck of the bathtub death of Wife Number Three. But, I also hope he does not get convicted without solid evidence even if I think he deserves a bum deal.
Why am I so concerned about what happens to a creep like Drew Peterson? I will tell you. The law is supposed to be impartial, the jury is supposed to be impartial, and if we allow the courts to convict people simply because the jury (and the community) doesn't like the defendant, then we are allowing our justice system to become a mockery.
Most "wrongful conviction" news in recent years has involved the Innocence Project, a group that is more interested in getting rid of the Death Penalty than getting innocent folk out of jail. This is why they don't bother with lifers. They also focus strictly on DNA evidence and, regardless of an often overwhelming pile of evidence proving guilt of the convicted felon, they work to get the killer freed on some DNA screw-up, technicality or irrelevant point (like the semen belonged to the victim's last date before the killer broke in and murdered her, or the semen belonged his partner-in-crime who was never identified). I don't see them taking up cases where the convicted man got life for being unlikeable.
Michael Skakel was one of those unlucky schmucks. Sure, he did masturbate in trees as a teenager and he was an arrogant member of the Kennedy clan and he had a big mouth he should have kept closed. Maybe he should have shut up, but he shouldn't have been convicted of killing Greenwich, Connecticut teenager Martha Moxley decades ago (1975) on less evidence than connected original suspect Ken Littleton to the crime. Littleton, a pretty creepy character who failed the polygraph test more than once, continued living with the Skakel brothers even though he had to "know" one of them committed the crime. But, no matter—Skakel was a Kennedy and Mark Fuhrman made him the villain, and the jury decided Skakel was creepier than Littleton. Guilty.
And what about Paul Dubois who supposedly gunned down Linda Silva in Cape Cod in 1996? He got convicted because his ex-girlfriend said she once saw a gun of Paul's that could have been the gun used in the murder and she wrote down the serial number on some toilet paper. Dubois may be a shady character that the community won't miss but if he didn't kill Silva, someone else did.
In Tennessee in 2003, James David Johnson got convicted of killing 73-year-old Florence Jean Hall in her garage purely on his confession. It didn't seem to matter to the jury (or maybe the prosecution withheld the information) that not one bit of physical evidence existed in the case. Although Johnson supposedly killed Mrs. Hall late in the afternoon, the woman had gone missing early in the morning, never showed up for any of her appointments and she never came home for lunch as she routinely did. The family apparently didn't feel the need to call and see if Mom was dead in a ditch (or dying on the floor of the garage since morning). Sure, Johnson is no stranger to crime, but if he didn't commit this one, someone else should be sitting in his place.
Which brings me back to Drew Peterson, no nominee for Boy Scout of the Month. In the case of Kathleen Savio, I tend to believe if a jury does convict Peterson without anything more than innuendo and some curious circumstantial evidence, they have the right man. But setting a trend of convicting people for being unlikeable rather than convicting them on sufficient evidence is not a good thing; an innocent (at least of that crime) guy goes to prison and the guilty party remains on the street to kill again.
I am waiting to find out what the probable cause was to arrest Drew Peterson. Something has to link Peterson to the Savio's home that night and to a violent assault on her. I doubt physical evidence exists so we can eliminate that. This leaves witnesses and/or confession.
Just in time to benefit the Will County prosecutors, Illinois amended the hearsay law, which will now allow the "testimony" of a dead person into court. This means the letter Savio left stating Drew might kill her could be allowed into court. I don't have a problem with a statement of any deceased person being brought into court if it is written in her handwriting, tape recorded, or authenticated by enough credible witnesses.
But, I do have a problem with such a statement being proof that Peterson killed her. Just because someone says another person is out to get them doesn't mean that this was the person who showed up and did the deed. It could be a new boyfriend (maybe Savio has bad taste in men), it could be a serial killer, or maybe a burglary gone bad. It could even be possible that Peterson entered Savio's home that evening with a machete in his hand, ready to lop off her head but found, Happy Day, that someone had beat him to the punch.
So, now I am only left with confession. A pastor said that Wife Number Four, Stacy Peterson, confided that Drew admitted killing Kathleen. Is this the telephone game? Is this good enough to convict Peterson without solid supporting evidence? Not in my opinion. To me, the only evidence that should convict Peterson and the only evidence I think would be good enough for probable cause to even arrest this sorry-excuse-for-a-man would be Drew's own words. I hope someone, sometime, somewhere, was wearing a wire and Drew bragged that he killed Kathleen and got away with it. I hope.
Over the next several days, we ought to have a little light shed on what probable cause the police had to bring Peterson in. I am keeping my fingers crossed they have something more than a good theory. A good theory alone may result in a conviction, but if juries keep convicting without evidence (and sometimes oddly refusing to convict in spite of overwhelming evidence), our court system will become nothing more than a popularity contest. This scares me more than Drew Peterson getting away with murder.
While I have never been fond of this saying: "It is better to let ten guilty men go free than one innocent man be wrongly convicted" (doesn't that mean the ten guilty men go on to kill fifty more people and therefore we murdered fifty to save one?), I do object to the concept of allowing the guilty man the freedom to kill yet more people because we put the wrong guy away.
Worse yet, I would hate to see Drew Peterson laughing at us as he walks back out of jail a free man.