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After conviction, Drew Peterson lawyers ask judge to toss lawsuit

By Andy Grimm, Chicago Tribune –

CHICAGO — Just days after a jury found him guilty of murdering his third wife, lawyers for Drew Peterson filed a motion Monday to dismiss a wrongful-death lawsuit against the former Bolingbrook police sergeant.

Peterson, 58, was found guilty Thursday of drowning Kathleen Savio in 2004. The couple’s two sons have asked to be removed from a civil lawsuit filed on their behalf by Savio’s estate. During the second week of Peterson’s murder trial, Kris Peterson visited the Will County Courthouse the day after his 18th birthday to file paperwork in the civil case. Kris spoke briefly with his father during a break in the murder trial, leaving the courtroom before testimony restarted.

Kris’ 19-year-old brother, Thomas, was allowed to be removed from the case when he turned 18 last year, and Peterson’s lawyers have said that under Illinois law, the wrongful-death case cannot move forward because only a victim’s children — or spouse — can make a claim for compensation in a wrongful-death case. The civil case has been on hold while the criminal trial was pending.

Martin Glink, the attorney for Savio’s estate, said Monday that the civil case can still move forward, and he speculated that Savio’s sons may have been pressured into withdrawing from the case. Since Peterson’s arrest in 2009, both lived with their older half-brother, Stephen Peterson, Drew Peterson’s son from a previous marriage. Thomas Peterson is now a student at the University of Pennsylvania.

“It’s a very interesting question” whether the case can move forward with neither of Savio’s sons apparently interested in pursuing the case, Glink said.

“I know (Savio’s sons) would deny they were manipulated, but we all know Drew Peterson is a master manipulator,” Glink said.

Lawyers for Savio’s estate have until December to respond to the motion filed Monday in Joliet. The next hearing in the case is set for February, and Glink points out that the civil lawsuit likely would continue to be delayed by the lengthy appeals that are likely in Peterson’s murder case.

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