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Sunday, October 26, 2008

[IL] November brings a new, retroactive law with ex-Sgt. Drew Peterson at it's heart


...This common-sense legislation, which will become law in November, will enable prosecutors to bring previously inadmissible evidence to trial to ensure abusive murderers cannot profit from their wrongdoing. The new law will apply to crimes committed before its enactment... "In order to bring justice, courts need to be able to hear the testimony of key witnesses. Unfortunately in Illinois, courts could not hear from many victims of domestic violence, because their spouse murdered them to keep quiet..."

PETERSON, SAVIO INVESTIGATIONS 'HIGHLY PRODUCTIVE'
CBS2 Chicago, IL - Oct 22, 2008
Oct 22, 2008 11:53 am US/Central
Peterson, Savio Investigations 'Highly Productive'
[Excerpts] With the one-year aniversary of the disapearance of Stacy Peterson coming up next week, Will County State's Attorney James Glasgow says the investigation into her disappearnce has been "highly productive" and he expects a resolution to her case or that of the murder of Kathleen Savio "in the near future." Peterson has been missing since Sunday, Oct. 28, 2007, when she left her Bolingbrook home. Her husband, Drew Peterson, a former Bolingbrook police sergeant, has denied any involvement in her disappearance, as well as the death of his third wife, Savio, whose body was found in a bathtub on March 1, 2004. Her death was initially ruled an accidental drowning but later classified as a homicide... Glasgow also said the investigations prompted him to propose a new law that will enable state prosecutors to "use a murder victim's cries for help as evidence at trial to convict her brutal killer." The legislation, which will become law in November, will enable prosecutors to bring previously inadmissible evidence to trial "to ensure abusive murderers cannot profit from their wrongdoing," Glasgow said. It will apply to crimes committed before its enactment, provisions recently affirmed by the U.S. Supreme Court. Glasgow said his office is "committed to making certain that justice is served for (the families and friends of Peterson and Savio)"... [Full article here]


Previous blog entries:
PRESS RELEASE
October 22, 2008
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Will County State’s Attorney James Glasgow’s statement regarding the Stacy Peterson, Kathleen Savio investigations

Contact: Charles B. Pelkie
(815) 727-8789
(815) 530-7110 (cellular)
cpelkie@willcountyillinois.com

This statement is in response to media requests for comment regarding the one-year anniversary of the disappearance of Stacy Peterson. This statement may be attributed to Will County State’s Attorney James Glasgow:

The Illinois State Police continue to conduct exhaustive investigations into the disappearance of Stacy Peterson and the murder of Kathleen Savio. The Will County State’s Attorney’s Office reopened the investigation into Kathleen Savio’s 2004 death, which occurred before I took office. After filing a petition with the court to exhume Kathleen Savio’s remains, a board certified forensic pathologist confirmed my assertion in that petition that her death was a homicide.

In addition, my office took the rare step of convening a Special Grand Jury in November 2007 to hear testimony and evidence regarding Stacy Peterson’s disappearance and Kathleen Savio’s murder. The Special Grand Jury is still receiving evidence.

The investigations into both Stacy Peterson’s disappearance and Kathleen Savio’s murder have been highly productive. I fully expect there to be a resolution in at least one of these investigations in the near future.

Furthermore, it must be noted that these two investigations, as well as the investigation into the disappearance of Lisa Stebic, prompted me to draft a new law that will enable prosecutors across Illinois to use a murder victim’s cries for help as evidence at trial to convict her brutal killer. This common-sense legislation, which will become law in November, will enable prosecutors to bring previously inadmissible evidence to trial to ensure abusive murderers cannot profit from their wrongdoing. The new law will apply to crimes committed before its enactment. The provisions contained in this new law have recently been affirmed by the U.S. Supreme Court.

I personally want to express my gratitude to the families and friends of both Stacy Peterson and Kathleen Savio for their patience, understanding and cooperation during the past year. We are committed to making certain that justice is served for them.

My office continues to work hard to assist the Illinois State Police in advancing both investigations under intense national and local media coverage. We have done our best to respond to legitimate media queries without jeopardizing the integrity of these investigations or the secrecy of the Special Grand Jury. While this has proven difficult at times, I respect the professionalism displayed by the press during these investigations. [Link]



[SENATE BILL 2718]
AN ACT CONCERNING CRIMINAL LAW.

Full Text of SB2718
SB2718 Enrolled
LRB095 05870 RLC 25961 b

BE IT ENACTED BY THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF ILLINOIS, REPRESENTED IN THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY:

Section 5. The Code of Criminal Procedure of 1963 is amended by adding Section 115-10.6 as follows:
(725 ILCS 5/115-10.6 new)
Sec. 115-10.6. Hearsay exception for intentional murder of a witness.
(a) A statement is not rendered inadmissible by the hearsay rule if it is offered against a party that has killed the declarant in violation of clauses (a)(1) and (a)(2) of Section 9-1 of the Criminal Code of 1961 intending to procure the unavailability of the declarant as a witness in a criminal or civil proceeding.
(b) While intent to procure the unavailability of the witness is a necessary element for the introduction of the statements, it need not be the sole motivation behind the murder which procured the unavailability of the declarant as a witness.
(c) The murder of the declarant may, but need not, be the subject of the trial at which the statement is being offered. If the murder of the declarant is not the subject of the trial at which the statement is being offered, the murder need not have ever been prosecuted.
(d) The proponent of the statements shall give the adverse party reasonable written notice of its intention to offer the statements and the substance of the particulars of each statement of the declarant. For purposes of this Section, identifying the location of the statements in tendered discovery shall be sufficient to satisfy the substance of the particulars of the statement.
(e) The admissibility of the statements shall be determined by the court at a pretrial hearing. At the hearing, the proponent of the statement bears the burden of establishing 3criteria by a preponderance of the evidence:
(1) first, that the adverse party murdered the declarant and that the murder was intended to cause the unavailability of the declarant as a witness;
(2) second, that the time, content, and circumstances of the statements provide sufficient safeguards of reliability;
(3) third, the interests of justice will best be served by admission of the statement into evidence.
(f) The court shall make specific findings as to each of these criteria on the record before ruling on the admissibility of said statements.
(g) This Section in no way precludes or changes the application of the existing common law doctrine of forfeiture by wrongdoing.



PRESS RELEASE
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
October 7, 2008

Governor Blagojevich Takes Action on Legislation that Allows Testimony of Witness who was Murdered by Defendant
Provides assistance for prosecuting attorneys to get a conviction when the defendant has intentionally murdered a key witness in effort to silence them

CHICAGO – Governor Rod R. Blagojevich today acted on legislation that will allow the courts to admit a statement from a witness who was intentionally murdered by the defendant if they determine the murder was to prevent the witness from testifying against the defendant. With support from the bill sponsors, advocates and prosecutors, the Governor used his amendatory veto power to give the act an immediate effective date.

Governor Blagojevich took action at the request of the bill’s sponsors. Without the amendatory veto, the legislation would not take effect until June 1, 2009. The General Assembly will now need to act to accept the amendatory veto and so that the voices of the silenced victims can be heard immediately. The General Assembly is expected to act next month.

“Too often, victims of domestic violence cry out for help, but those cries aren’t heard. In the most tragic cases, victims are murdered by their abusers when they reach out for help, and they are silenced forever. Now the voices of those victims will be heard in the courtroom and justice can be served,” Governor Blagojevich said.

Senate Bill 2718, sponsored by Senator A. J. Wilhelmi (D - Crest Hill) and Representative Careen M. Gordon (D - Coal City), and initiated by Will County State’s Attorney James Glasgow, is designed to eliminate the incentive for criminals in Illinois to kill witnesses in an attempt to prevent them from testifying at trial. The legislation allows prosecutors to enter into evidence the relevant statements from witnesses who were killed.

“This legislation will clarify the rules of evidence in Illinois and will prevent defendants from escaping justice by murdering witnesses,” State’s Attorney James Glasgow said. “Prosecutors at the federal level, as well as in other states, have been using this rule of evidence for years to secure convictions against dangerous criminals.”

The new law will allow a judge to decide at a pretrial hearing whether the court will consider a hearsay testimony. At the pretrial hearing, a judge will determine if the defendant murdered the witness and the murder was intended to make the witness unavailable for testimony, if the unavailable witness’ statements are reliable, and if justice is best served if the statements will be admitted into evidence.

For the statement to be admissible, the trial court judge must make specific findings that each of the following criteria has been met:
· Specific intent by the defendant to make the witness unavailable by murdering the declarant.
· Reliability of the statement.
· The interests of justice will be best served by the admission of the statement into evidence.

“The ability for one to testify against a perpetrator of a crime is an instrumental element of our judicial system. Criminals should not benefit when they try to stifle our system of justice by murdering a key witness. I want to thank Governor Blagojevich for supporting this bill and giving those who can no longer be with us a voice,” said Senator A.J. Wilhelmi.

This new law is supported by the recent Supreme Court decision of Giles v. California which upheld the common law doctrine called “the forfeiture of wrongdoing,” which states that the defendant forfeits his/her rights under the Sixth Amendment to confront the witness if the defendant has caused the witness to be unavailable. Senate Bill 2718 codifies the common law doctrine to make it enforceable in Illinois. This doctrine has been made into law in more than a dozen other states, including Maryland, California, Connecticut, North Carolina, New Mexico, Utah, Vermont and Hawaii.

“I am proud to sponsor legislation that allows the court to hear testimony from those that criminals have tries to silence. This law will help bring a bit of peace to victims’ families and assist prosecuting attorneys in convicting those who would kill in order to prevent a witness from testifying against them,” said Representative Careen Gordon.

“In order to bring justice, courts need to be able to hear the testimony of key witnesses. Unfortunately in Illinois, courts could not hear from many victims of domestic violence, because their spouse murdered them to keep quiet. I thank the Governor for standing up for these victims of domestic violence,” said Barbara Shaw, Director of the Illinois Violence Prevention Authority. [Link]

AMEN
(So be it.)

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