Blunders jeopardize Peterson murder prosecution
CHICAGO – With no physical evidence tying Drew Peterson to the death of his third wife and so much of the case hinging on what she said before she died and what his next wife said before she vanished, it was a certainty that his trial would be unlike anything ever seen in Illinois and perhaps in the country.
But nobody expected what unfolded in the first three weeks of the trial: prosecutors made a series of blunders that prompted the judge to consider at least three defense motions for a mistrial and has some legal experts wondering just how much trust is left.
"If the jury can't trust the prosecution, everything after that fails," said Daniel Coyne, a professor at Chicago Kent School of Law and a former criminal defense lawyer, adding that it is not a big leap for jurors who don't trust prosecutors not to trust the witnesses they call to testify. "The judge has told the jury on a number of occasions that the prosecutor has done something wrong ... [If] they transfer that wrongness to the witnesses, that is very dangerous."
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