Illinois Legislation passed “Drew’s Law” in 2008, which states that hearsay evidence may be used if prosecutors believe the witness was murdered in order to prevent him or her from testifying. Hearsay is any evidence given by a witness that is not directly from their own knowledge. In the murder case of Kathleen Savio, Stacy Peterson is believed to have knowledge of Kathleen’s death.
Holdout juror Ron Supalo said that hearsay testimony from by Rev. Neil Schori and attorney Harry Smith ultimately led to his decision of guilty. Reverend Schori’s testimony described a conversation between Schori and Stacy at a Starbucks two months before she went missing. Stacy was curled up and crying while describing the night Savio died. Stacy said that she couldn’t find Drew all night, and when he finally arrived home, she watched Drew place women’s clothing that he retrieved from a bag and his own clothing in to their washing machine. He told Stacy that the police will want to talk to her. The pastor testified that he counseled the couple in the past, and observed a Bolingbrook patrol car circle the Starbucks during his meeting with Stacy. Rev. Schori declined an invitation from Drew Peterson for a ride in his light aircraft after Drew said that “I know you met with my wife.”
Hearsay evidence has been historically excluded because of a defense attorney’s inability to cross-examine a deceased witness. What does this mean for future defendants and their attorneys? Will hearsay rulings be further eroded?
Drew Peterson, convicted of the murder of Kathleen Savio, his third wife, showed a distinct pattern of conduct similar to most abusers. Peterson’s history of abuse, along with fourth wife Stacy’s disappearance, was the catalyst for a new way to protect victims of violence, the Evidentiary Abuse Affidavit, created by Rev. Neil Schori and the late Susan Murphy-Milano, expert intimate partner violence strategist and author of Time’s Up! How to Escape Abusive and Stalking Relationships Guide
The Evidentiary Abuse Affidavit (EAA) is used to circumvent the hearsay laws, allowing the victim’s voice to be heard in court should she/he go missing or be otherwise incapacitated and unable to testify in person. It also addresses the confrontation clause (Crawford v. Washington), the forfeiture by wrongdoing clause (Giles v. California), and the reliability of the testimony. The EAA helps prosecutors build a stronger case, especially in high risk cases of domestic violence where a victim is most at risk for death or disappearance.
After-the-fact testimony on intimate partner violence and stalking is solved with the EAA because it is recorded prior to the fact of testimony. It is prior evidence of pre-existing abuse before the onset of court action. The victim’s pre-recorded abuse testimony, and documented and notarized affidavits, are arguable under seeking admission of the testimony, not merely for the truth of the statement, but for a highly relevant other purpose. Victims often tell others about the abuse or stalking in case she goes missing or is harmed. The legal argument is focused on the effect the abuse had on the victim that impacted her enough to confess fear of death to someone else. Or when victims say “If anything happens to me, please take care for my children’ which offers dynamic impact and is comparable, in some ways, to a dying declaration. Portions of the affidavits of the EAA are a notarized Last Will and Testament, which is a victim’s dying declaration.
As a former Chicago police officer and student of criminal justice, I have direct knowledge of criminal and civil convictions being upheld as well as overturned in higher court systems. Peterson’s attorneys claim they will appeal to the Supreme Court. Time will tell whether the state “Drew Peterson” law will hold up……Kristen Anklin (article edited)
Management Resources LTD of NY works with clients towards ending violent relationships and divorce planning through the application of the Evidentiary Abuse Affidavit. We are able to assist them to put into place an exit plan including legal support recommendation, child custody, and other personal issues. For those who are in an abusive intimate partner relationship, there are additional steps we can help them with to insure their safety and the safety of their families before, during and after the separation.