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Peterson Gets 38 Years For Ex-Wife's Murder
Drew Peterson - the swaggering Chicago-area police officer who gained notoriety after his much-younger fourth wife vanished in 2007 - has been sentenced to 38 years in prison for murdering his third wife.
The sentence came moments after Peterson shocked the courtroom with a rare public outburst of anger as he proclaimed his innocence in the 2004 death of Kathleen Savio.
"I did not kill Kathleen!" he shouted at the top of his lungs, emphasising every word.
Peterson seemed to look across the courtroom at Ms Savio's family. Her sister Susan Doman shot back: "Yes, you did. You liar!" before the judge ordered sheriff's deputies to remove her from the courtroom.
Illinois does not have the death penalty, and the 59-year-old Peterson had faced a maximum 60-year prison term. The judge gave him four years' credit for time he has served since his arrest.
Before handing down the sentence, Judge Edward Burmila denied Peterson's request for a new trial.
Peterson's current legal team had argued for a new trial on grounds his former lead attorney, Joel Bodsky, botched the case.
Jurors convicted Peterson in September over the death of Ms Savio, whose body was found in a dry bathtub with a gash on her head.
Peterson is also a suspect in the 2007 disappearance of his fourth wife, Stacy Peterson, but has not been charged in that case.
His current legal team had argued that Mr Brodsky failed to adequately defend the former Bolingbrook police sergeant. Mr Brodsky stepped down from the defence team in November as the lawyerly strife worsened.
Among the accusations from Steve Greenberg, who was on the trial team and still represents Peterson, is that Mr Brodsky forced Peterson to stage a pre-trial media blitz that harmed the ex-officer's cause.
Drew Peterson's 2012 trial was the first in Illinois history where prosecutors built their case on hearsay thanks in part to a new law, dubbed "Drew's Law", tailored to the case.
The hearsay, prosecutors said, let his wives "speak from their graves" through family and friends.
The hearsay - any information reported by a witness not based on the witness' direct knowledge - included a friend who said Ms Savio told her Peterson once put a knife to her throat and warned her: "I could kill you and make it look like an accident."
Before his 2009 arrest, Peterson seemed to taunt authorities, suggesting a "Win a Date With Drew Contest" and then, after his arrest, "Win a Conjugal Visit With Drew Contest".
More recently, his story inspired a TV movie starring Rob Lowe.
The 2004 drowning death of Ms Savio, a 40-year-old aspiring nurse, was initially deemed an accident. After Peterson's fourth wife, 23-year-old Stacy Peterson, vanished in 2007, Ms Savio's body was exhumed, re-examined and her death reclassified as a homicide.
Peterson had divorced Ms Savio a year before her death. His motive for killing her, prosecutors said, was fear that a pending settlement would wipe him out financially.
Fascination nationwide with the case arose from speculation that Peterson sought to parlay three decades of law enforcement expertise into getting away with murder.