BOLINGBROOK - Drew Peterson's monthly $6,000 pension could be taken away if board members believe he used his police training to kill his third wife.
The Bolingbrook Police Pension Board began a hearing Friday to see if Peterson terminated his pension rights by committing a felony related to his job.
Peterson, who served as a Bolingbrook officer from 1977 to 2007, did not attend the hearing. He was convicted in 2012 of murdering Kathleen Savio. Savio was found dead in a bathtub in March 2004. Her drowning was initially ruled accidental, but the case was re-opened when Peterson's fourth wife, Stacy, disappeared in October 2007.
Charles Atwell, a lawyer who specializes in pension funds, said it doesn't matter whether Peterson was on-duty when Savio's life ended, but whether he used his access and training in crime scene investigation and interrogation techniques to set up "the whole scheme."
Peterson's attorney, Steven Greenberg, noted his client was not convicted of or charged with obstructing justice or concealing a homicide.
"There's nothing specialized about his training that made him any more able to drown someone," Greenberg said.
Bolingbrook Lt. David Schurr was Peterson's immediate supervisor on the night Savio's body was discovered. Savio's death investigation was turned over to the Illinois State Police because Drew Peterson was a Bolingbrook officer.
Schurr said Peterson was not disciplined for any of his actions that night.
"(I gave) no criticism how he handled it to him," Schurr said. "As we learned what took place, I remember questioning why he did certain things."
Schurr told Pension Board members he believed it was unusual Peterson went to the house by himself, called a locksmith before calling police personnel and that his neighbors had gone into the house with him.
Peterson is serving a 38-year sentence in the Menard Correctional Center and the Pension Board cannot order his release to testify before them. The Open Meetings Act prohibits the Pension Board from holding the hearing outside the village.
Atwell wants to have Peterson give a deposition, but Greenberg said it's "a fair guess" his client will cite his Fifth Amendment rights and not answer any questions.
"I don't think a governmental entity can draw a negative inference on him exercising his Constitutional rights, as opposed to a civil litigant," Greenberg said.
The Pension Board will meet again in June to decide if a deposition will be ordered. Greenberg told the board that oral arguments in Peterson's criminal appeal will be scheduled "very soon."
Meanwhile, Peterson is scheduled to face trial July 6 in Randolph County for allegedly trying to hire a hitman from prison to kill Will County State's Attorney James Glasgow.