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Holdout juror in Drew Peterson trial says hearsay evidence swayed him

Ron Supalo says hearsay evidence convinced him to deliver a guilty verdict with fellow jurors in Drew Peterson's murder trial. WMAQ's Lauren Jiggetts reports.

By the end of the first day of deliberations in the Drew Peterson murder trial, juror Ron Supalo says, there was just a single panelist preventing the group from making a unanimous decision -- him.

"I wanted to sleep on it," he said. "I had to rethink everything I wanted to ask today in my mind and then research it the best I could."

Supalo said he didn't get much sleep, and when he returned to the courthouse Thursday morning he spent the first part of the day reviewing his courtroom notes and discussing with the other jurors the approximately 10 nagging questions he had.


 

Read more about the case at NBCChicago.com

With no physical evidence tying Peterson to the death of his third wife, Kathleen Savio, prosecutors had to rely on hearsay and circumstantial evidence. Such testimony isn't usually admissible in court, but Illinois legislators in 2008 passed a law -- dubbed "Drew's Law" -- which allows it in rare circumstances.

Supalo said the jurors took three votes on Wednesday. Seven believed Peterson was guilty on the first vote; eight in the second vote; and 11 in the third.

Ultimately, he said, it was the hearsay testimonies by Rev. Neil Schori and attorney Harry Smith that cleared the picture for him.

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"Those two were the big ones, just like everybody else," he said. "I couldn't come up with any reason, in my mind, to not put [Peterson] at the scene beyond a reasonable doubt."

A jury took only 13 hours to come to a verdict in the case of former Illinois policeman Drew Peterson, declaring him guilty of murdering third wife Kathleen Savio. Peterson's fourth wife, Stacy, has been missing for five years. NBC's Kevin Tibbles reports and Savio's sister, Anna Doman, speaks about the verdict.

Schori testified that Peterson's fourth wife, Stacy Peterson, told him her husband had killed Savio and then coached her to lie about it. Smith told jurors that Stacy Peterson asked during a phone conversation if "the fact that he killed Kathy could be used against him."

Stacy Peterson disappeared days after that phone call.

Related content:
Savio family: 'Stacy, you are now next for justice'
So what happened to Stacy Peterson?

Supalo said he has a lot of mixed emotions about the guilty verdict he and the other panelists handed down. Still, he said it's a decision he feels he can live with.

"In some ways I'm glad it's over. ... In some ways, I'm going to miss seeing the other jurors. I mean, we got to be pretty good friends," he said.

And when it came to the jurors and their color-coordinated and matching clothes, Supalo said he initially wanted nothing to do with that.

"I did not want to do anything which might send any kind of statement, whatever the color was, I would go out of my way to be as far away from it as I could," he said.

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