CHESTER, Illinois — Drew Peterson, a former suburban Chicago police officer convicted of killing his third wife and suspected in his fourth wife's disappearance, pleaded not guilty Tuesday to trying to hire someone to kill the prosecutor who helped put him in prison.
Peterson's feet were shackled as he waived a preliminary hearing in the court in Randolph County in southern Illinois, near the Menard Correctional Center where he's serving time. He was charged in February with soliciting an unidentified person to find someone he could pay to kill Will County State's Attorney James Glasgow.
Circuit Judge Richard Brown also granted Peterson's request for a speedy trial, meaning he would go to trial within 160 days or by July 28. Randolph County State's Attorney Jeremy Walker said the state would be ready by July 13.
Prosecutors were prepared to present evidence to the judge Tuesday, but Peterson's last-minute waiving of the hearing kept them from doing so.
"Basically, we don't want this case being tried before a jury is ever impaneled," said Lucas Liefer, Peterson's attorney.
The state filed a notice Tuesday disclosing that the case against Peterson twice involved use of eavesdropping devices, though it did not provide details.
At the state's request, Brown barred defense and prosecutors from publicly revealing evidence to protect an informant.
Peterson, a former Bolingbrook police sergeant, has been in prison since he was convicted in 2012 of Kathleen Savio's death eight years earlier. He is serving a 38-year sentence.
Peterson, 61, is charged with solicitation of murder for hire and one count of solicitation of murder, both felonies carrying a maximum sentence of at least 30 years in prison. He appeared thinner Tuesday than during his 2012 trial, with his hair closely cropped and wearing black glasses. After confirming for the judge that he wanted to waive the hearing, he sat with his hands folded on the table.
The new charges are the latest chapter in a case that became a media sensation almost from the day Peterson's 23-year-old fourth wife, Stacy, disappeared in 2007. A massive effort to find her was unsuccessful, with Drew Peterson accused but never charged in her slaying.
The case continued when Savio's body was exhumed and authorities ruled her drowning a homicide. Peterson was interviewed countless times, joked about a "Win a Date with Drew" contest and discussed appearing on a reality TV show.
Throughout it all, Peterson maintained his innocence. His attorneys contended Stacy Peterson had run off with another man.
Drew Peterson did not testify at trial but addressed the court after he was convicted, blaming prosecutors for "the largest railroad job ever." He challenged the prosecutor to look him in the eye, then told him to "never forget what you've done here."
Glasgow issued a statement after the new charges were announced, saying he would not let a threat to his personal safety affect the way he does his job. On Tuesday he declined comment, noting he's a potential witness.
"I have full confidence in the attorney general's office and the Randolph County prosecutor in handling this matter," Glasgow told The (Joliet) Herald-News.
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