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Drew Peterson found guilty of trying to have prosecutor killed

Chicago Tribune logo Chicago Tribune 5/31/2016 Matthew Walberg

FILE - In this May 8, 2009 file photo, former Bolingbrook, Ill., police officer Drew Peterson arrives for court in Joliet, Ill. Jury selection is set to begin Friday, May 20, 2016, in Chester, Ill., in the murder-for-hire trial of Peterson, who is accused of plotting to kill the prosecutor who put him behind bars in his third wife's death. (AP Photo/M. Spencer Green, File) © The Associated Press FILE - In this May 8, 2009 file photo, former Bolingbrook, Ill., police officer Drew Peterson arrives for court in Joliet, Ill. Jury selection is set to begin Friday, May 20, 2016, in Chester, Ill., in the murder-for-hire trial of Peterson, who is accused of plotting to kill the prosecutor who put him behind bars in his third wife's death. (AP Photo/M. Spencer Green, File) CHESTER, Ill. — Drew Peterson was found guilty Tuesday of trying to hire a hit man to kill the prosecutor who put him behind bars for murder. The jury deliberated for about an hour before finding Peterson guilty of solicitation of murder for hire and solicitation of murder.

The charges carry a prison sentence of up to 60 years.

Peterson sat hunched over, his head leaning on his left hand with his elbow on the defense table as the verdict was read by the judge. Peterson showed no visible reaction to the verdict. As Peterson left the courtroom, he glanced at Cassandra Cales — the sister of Peterson's missing wife, Stacy Peterson — and murmured something unintelligible.

Several jurors declined comment afterward. Peterson, 62, is already serving 38 years for the 2004 murder of his third wife, Kathleen Savio. Will County State's Attorney James Glasgow prosecuted the 2012 murder case against Peterson, who tried to arrange for a fellow inmate to hire a relative to kill the prosecutor.

The inmate, Antonio Smith, worked with authorities to record his conversations with Peterson in November 2014. Smith told Peterson he had arranged for his uncle to kill Glasgow by Christmas 2014.

"I told him what you said, that it's the green light on, that basically go ahead and kill him," Smith said in a Nov. 15, 2014, recording. "That's what you wanted, right? ... It ain't no turning back."

"OK, alright. I'm in," Peterson responds. "From the first time we talked about it, there was no turning back. ... If I get some booze in here, we'll celebrate that night." The exchange left no doubt about Peterson's intentions, prosecutor Steve Nate told the jury Tuesday during his closing argument. "He said it, he meant it, and he's guilty," said Nate, of the Illinois attorney general's office, who collaborated with prosecutors in Randolph County. Peterson's defense attorney Lucas Liefer said the recordings were nonsensical prison talk and pointed out that

Peterson never directly said on the recordings that he wanted Glasgow killed. He also said Smith, serving time for attempted murder, was unreliable and a liar.

"This case is wrought with inconsistency and incomplete evidence," Liefer told the jury. In 2007, Peterson's fourth wife, Stacy Peterson, disappeared in a case that garnered international headlines and prompted Glasgow to reopen a probe into Savio's death, which was originally ruled an accident.

No one has ever been charged in connection with Stacy Peterson's disappearance. Drew Peterson, a former Bolingbrook police officer, is the only suspect in the case, authorities have said.

On the recordings, Peterson told Smith he believed his wife was still alive.

mwalberg@tribpub.com

Twitter @mwalberg1

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