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Drew Peterson trial stalls as judge challenges pathologist's testimony

Drew Peterson's trial for the murder of his third wife encountered yet another interruption Tuesday as the fourth week of testimony got under way in Joliet, Ill.

Dr. Mary Case, a pathologist at St. Louis University and an expert in head trauma, was testifying for the prosecution that she had reviewed depositions and opinion letters from doctors involved in three autopsies of Peterson's wife, Kathleen Savio, NBCChicago.com reported.

When Case mentioned the names of the doctors, Will County Judge Edward Burmila took issue because many of the doctors will not be called to testify, NBCChicago.com reported. The session was recessed while prosecutors reviewed case law.

The recess was the latest bump in the road for a trial that has already been put on hold three times.

Questioning resumed Tuesday before a lunch break.

Speaking to reporters outside court Tuesday morning, defense attorney Joel Brodsky called Case an expert in a "field of one," NBCChicago.com reported.

Peterson is accused of killing Savio, whose body was found in 2004 in a dry bathtub, her hair soaked in blood and a gash on the back of her head.

Drew Peterson has pleaded not guilty to first-degree murder in Savio's death. If convicted, he would face a maximum 60-year prison sentence.

AP file

Former Bolingbrook, Ill., police sergeant Drew Peterson arrives at the Will County Courthouse in Joliet, Ill. in this May 8, 2009 photo.

Others on the state's witness list for Tuesday included llinois State Police investigator Bryan Falat, Rev. Neil Schori and Savio's divorce attorney, Harry Smith. Jurors may also hear from Drew Peterson's former co-worker, Jeff Pachter, who claims Peterson offered him $25,000 to hire a hitman to kill Savio.

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Schori is the pastor of Peterson’s fourth wife, Stacy, who allegedly told the clergyman she saw Drew Peterson dressed in all-black and carrying a bag of women's clothes not long after Savio was found dead in her Bolingbrook, Ill., home.

Stacy Peterson, then 23, disappeared in 2007, leading authorities to reopen the investigation into Savio's death. Drew Peterson, a former Bolingbrook police sergeant, denies he had anything to do with the disappearance of Stacy Peterson, long maintaining that his wife ran off with another man. He has not been charged in the disappearance. 

Related: Colleague: Drew Peterson said life better if 3rd wife dead

Burmila has said prosecutors can't mention that Stacy Peterson went missing and that authorities presume she is dead.

Burmila on Friday ended week three of the trial by booting a prosecution witness Scott Rossetto from the stand after just a few minutes.

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Rossetto was expected to tell jurors how he met Stacy Peterson and about the alibi Drew Peterson supposedly gave Stacy the night Savio died.

But after a date discrepancy and other issues, Burmilla called Rossetto "facially unreliable" and barred his testimony.

Friday's testimony also included a doctor who'd treated Savio for "cervical vertigo."

Dr. Gene Neri described the condition and said it wasn't the cause of her death, noting that patients with cervical vertigo are typically more cautious and less likely to fall.

Some reports suggested Savio died from drowning after a fall. A second autopsy reclassified the death as homicide.

Judge Burmila has put stopped Peterson's trial several times so he could consider whether the prosecution's inadvertently tainted jurors by introducing improper evidence.

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