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Apr 14, 1:51 PM EDT

Drew Peterson to stand trial in July in murder-for-hire case


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Timeline of the Drew Peterson case

CHESTER, Ill. (AP) -- Drew Peterson, the former suburban Chicago police officer charged with trying to kill the prosecutor who helped put him in prison for his third wife's death, will stand trial in southern Illinois this summer.

A Randolph County judge on Tuesday set a July 6 jury trial for Peterson. The ex-Bolingbrook police sergeant is accused of enlisting another prison inmate whose identity has not been disclosed in a murder-for-hire plot to kill Will County State's Attorney James Glasgow. Peterson pleaded not guilty in March.

Peterson, 61, is serving a 38-year sentence at the Menard Correctional Center in Chester after his 2012 conviction in Kathleen Savio's death eight years earlier. He's also suspected in the 2007 disappearance of his fourth wife, whose father and sister attended the brief hearing.

Circuit Judge Richard Brown also approved a request by prosecutors to keep the taped prison conversations between Peterson and the unidentified informant under seal before the trial to avoid influencing potential jurors. Defense attorney Lucas Liefer didn't oppose the request.

"I just don't feel that it's in the interest of justice that that come out any sooner than it has to," said Randolph County State's Attorney Jeremy Walker. "We're not trying to purposely frustrate the public's rights. But there's a greater importance in making sure we aren't prejudicial to Mr. Peterson's rights."

Peterson, who is charged with solicitation of murder for hire and one count of solicitation of murder, attended the hearing but did not speak. Both felonies carry maximum sentences of 30 years.

Brown set a hearing for late May to consider three motions submitted by Walker.

One asks the court to allow prosecutors to cross-examine Peterson about his first-degree murder conviction should he choose to testify. Another seeks permission to discuss a 2003 attempt by Peterson to pay someone $25,000 to "take care of" Savio. The third seeks to limit discussion at trial about the details of the confidential informant's own first-degree murder conviction.

Brown has already barred the defense and prosecutors from publicly revealing evidence to protect the informant.

Peterson did not testify at his first trial but blamed prosecutors after he was convicted for "the largest railroad job ever." He challenged Glasgow to look him in the eye and then told him to "never forget what you've done here."

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