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Drew Peterson Trial Continues, Hearsay Evidence Not Admissible

The Drew Peterson trial will soon resume after an appeals court upheld a trial court's decision to bar eight hearsay statements. The trial of Peterson, who is accused of murdering his wife Kathleen Savio, has been stalled for more than a year as the higher court wrestled with the issue of whether to allow the jury to hear the hearsay statements, reports the Chicago Tribune.

According to the Tribune, a divided appellate court ruled that prosecutors missed the appeal deadline when they sought to overturn the trial court's decision barring the hearsay statements. The trial court excluded these statements citing unreliability.

Hearsay evidence is generally an out-of-court statement used to prove the truth of the matter asserted. In other words, hearsay evidence is a statement made by someone other than a witness testifying at trial that is offered to prove the truth of the statement asserted. As the person who utters the hearsay statement is not available as a witness, and cannot be cross-examined, hearsay evidence is usually treated as unreliable and not admissible in court.

In the Peterson case, prosecutors had sought to introduce several hearsay statements including one by Savio herself where she stated that if she was ever found dead, Drew Peterson killed her. As Savio died, she obviously could not testify to this statement at trial, and so the statement was treated as hearsay.

If the appellate court had allowed prosecutors to introduce this statement at trial, such a statement by the deceased wife could have been damning to Peterson's defense. However, now that the hearsay evidence was excluded, the Drew Peterson trial will resume without Kathleen Savio's input.

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