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Stacy Peterson said Drew coached her to lie to investigators, pastor tells court

The pastor of Drew Peterson wife Stacy testifies that Peterson coached her to lie about his whereabouts on the night of ex-wife Kathleen Savio's death. WMAQ's Kim Vatis reports.

A pastor provided dramatic testimony in the Drew Peterson trial on Thursday, telling the court that the former Illinois police officer coached his fourth wife to lie about the death of his third wife.

Rev. Neil Schori testified that in a conversation in August 2007, Stacy Peterson told him what she saw the night Kathleen Savio died.

He said the former suburban Chicago police officer's fourth wife once tearfully recounted to him how her husband mysteriously disappeared from their home around the time of his third wife's death, then later coached her about how to lie to investigators.

"She was very scared," Schori said about Stacy Peterson.

He testified that the slender, blond 23-year-old pulled her legs up and hugged her knees nervously as she told him Drew Peterson warned her police would approach her to interview her and coached her for hours about how she should lie to them.

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She did lie to investigators, he said, after Savio's body was found in a dry bathtub at her home just blocks from the Petersons' house. Schori didn't go into detail about the lies, but they apparently involved Peterson's whereabouts.

Earlier in the trial, witnesses testified that investigators let Drew Peterson, of Bolingbrook, Ill., sit in on an interview with Stacy Peterson. He sat next to his visibly shaken wife, his arm around her shoulder and hand on her knee, and corrected at least one of her answers, according to those witnesses.

Defense attorney Joe Lopez blasted Schori for not coming forward sooner, or stopping Stacy from going home.

"She told you she lived with a murderer and you let her go back to the house?" Lopez said.

Prosecutors say they could be in a position to rest their case against Drew Peterson shortly after court resumes Friday morning.

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The announcement came Thursday afternoon following a decision to not call Kathleen Savio's divorce attorney and after Judge Edward Burmila barred testimony from a crime scene investigator.

Divorce attorney Harry Smith was expected to testify about conversations he had with Drew Peterson's ex-wife before her 2004 drowning death. But calling Smith was a big gamble the prosecution ultimately decided not to take.

Back in June, Burmila said Smith must testify about "inculpatory" statements, leading the defense to believe Savio lied under oath.

"This is a home run for us," attorney Joe Lopez said at the time. "If this pans out it looks to us like she lied under oath and if that's so we will be free to argue she is a perjurer and a liar."

Prosecutors wanted state's attorney investigator Dave Margliano to tell jurors about a pair of receipts found in Peterson's home they say show the defendant was seeking an alibi for the weekend Savio died. Burmila ultimately barred that testimony.

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Prosecutors have no physical evidence and are trying to build a compelling circumstantial case — one that will lead jurors to conclude Peterson must have killed Savio.

Her death was initially ruled an accident but was reclassified a homicide after Peterson's fourth wife, Stacy Peterson, went missing in 2007. Peterson is a suspect in her disappearance but hasn't been charged.

Peterson has pleaded not guilty to first-degree murder in Savio's death. If convicted, he faces a maximum prison sentence of 60 years.

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