Ex-Illinois police officer found guilty in murder-for-hire trial

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[June 01, 2016]  By Justin Madden
 (Reuters) - Drew Peterson, a former Chicago-area police officer imprisoned for murdering his wife, was found guilty on Tuesday of trying to hire someone in 2014 to kill the prosecutor who convicted him, prosecutors said.

Peterson, 62, was found guilty of solicitation of murder and solicitation of murder for hire. He faces mandatory sentences of 20 to 40 years for the first charge and 15 to 30 years for the second charge, according to a statement by the Illinois Attorney General's office, which helped prosecute the case.

The jury deliberated for about an hour before finding Peterson guilty, according to the Chicago Tribune.

Sentencing is scheduled for July 26 before Randolph County Judge Richard Brown.

Peterson was accused of trying to contract the killing of James Glasgow, the Will County prosecutor.

Peterson was charged with seeking a hitman from prison, where he is serving a 38-year sentence for the 2004 murder of Kathleen Savio, his third wife, a case that was made into a television movie starring Rob Lowe.

The murder-for-hire case centers on recordings made at the maximum security Menard Correctional Center in southern Illinois where Peterson is serving his sentence and where a fellow inmate, Antonio Smith, taped him saying he wanted to hire someone to kill Glasgow, according to prosecutors.

Peterson's defense attorney Lucas Liefer said the recordings were nonsensical prison talk and that Peterson never directly said on the recordings that he wanted Glasgow killed. He also said Smith, serving time for attempted murder, was unreliable and a liar, newspaper reported.

Liefer could not be immediately reached by Reuters for comment.

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Former police sergeant Drew Peterson is pictured in this booking photo, released by the Will County Sheriff's Office on May 8, 2009. REUTERS/Will County Sheriff's Office/Handout

Smith, who testified Peterson told him he would pay $10,000 for the murder, worked with authorities to record conversations in November 2014, the newspaper reported. Smith also testified that Peterson told him he killed his missing fourth wife, Stacy Peterson.

Prosecutors argued Peterson was guilty because he was deliberate and intentional in his actions to have Glasgow killed.

Savio was found dead in a bathtub in 2004, during a contentious divorce. Her death was at first ruled accidental, but suspicions were raised when Peterson's fourth wife disappeared in 2007.

(Reporting by Justin Madden in Chicago; Editing by Bill Trott and Alan Crosby)

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