The second wife of a former suburban Chicago police sergeant testified at a pretrial hearing Tuesday that he had threatened to kill her and said he could make it look like an accident.
Victoria Connolly said her ex-husband, Drew Peterson, pulled a gun on her three or four times when they were married, once putting it to her head and telling her he would kill her then kill himself.
Peterson has pleaded not guilty to first-degree murder in the 2004 death of his third wife, Kathleen Savio. Prosecution called 68 witnesses at the pretrial hearing to determine what hearsay evidence will be allowed at Peterson's upcoming murder trial. Defense will begin Wednesday.
Connolly and Peterson were married for 9½ years. They divorced in 1992.
She described an argument in the mid-1980s when Peterson grabbed her by the throat.
"He did tell me he could kill me and make it look like an accident," Connolly said, mirroring the testimony of other witnesses who said they were repeating what Peterson's third and fourth wives told them.
Fourth wife vanished
Peterson's fourth wife, Stacy, disappeared in 2007. Peterson has not been charged in the disappearance but police say he is a suspect.
Hearsay, or statements not based on the direct knowledge of a witness, usually isn't admissible in court. But Illinois judges can allow it in murder trials if prosecutors prove a defendant may have killed a witness to prevent him or her from testifying.
Connolly said Peterson's controlling behavior extended after their divorce, saying he followed her and even got into her house.
Connolly said after they split, Peterson offered to change the locks on her house. After that, she said, she awoke in the dead of night in her darkened house to see Peterson standing over her.
"He didn't say anything," Connolly said. "We did not exchange words at all. Drew turned and left."
Connolly did not know if Peterson had made a set of keys or used the locksmith tools she said he carried.
She described their divorce as amicable because she did not seek any money from his police pension. Previous witnesses have testified that Peterson tried to protect his pension from Savio.
Also Tuesday, a friend of Stacy Peterson testified that before they married Stacy Peterson had said Drew Peterson planned to kill Savio.
"She told us he planned on killing her and make it look like an accident," said Michael Miles, recalling the conversation he and another friend had with Stacy Peterson in 2002.
Miles also testified that Stacy Peterson, who was dating Drew Peterson at the time, said the "only reason" Peterson's third wife was still alive was because Stacy Peterson talked him out of killing her.
A man who worked with Peterson at a cable television company testified he was asked to kill Savio but he turned the offer down. William Green said another man who worked at the company, Jeff Pachter, approached him about the offer.
Green said he quickly declined and never talked about it again — either with Peterson or Pachter. Previously, Pachter testified that Peterson asked him to find someone to kill Savio for $25,000.
Green testified he thought Pachter came to him because he looked menacing, wore heavy metal T-shirts and had tattoos. Green said he contacted police after Stacy Peterson disappeared in 2007 because that's when he first heard about Savio's death.