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Judge rules against mistrial in Drew Peterson case

The murder trial against former Illinois police officer Drew Peterson continued on Thursday.

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Judge Edward Burmila enters the Will County Courthouse, Thursday, Aug. 2, in Joliet, Ill., to preside over the third day in Drew Peterson's murder trial.

M. Spencer Green/AP

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A judge decided against declaring a mistrial in Drew Peterson's murder case Thursday, saying the former police officer still can get a fair trial despite prosecutors' missteps.

The ruling by Judge Edward Burmila followed several blunders by prosecutors, who are seeking to prove the 58-year-old Peterson killed his third wife, Kathleen Savio, in 2004. He also is a suspect in the 2007 disappearance of his fourth wife, Stacy Peterson, but has never been charged in her case.

A furious Burmila admonished prosecutors Wednesday after a witness began testifying about finding a .38-caliber bullet on his driveway. Thomas Pontarelli, a former neighbor of Savio's, hinted that Peterson may have planted it there to intimidate him.

Prosecutors later admitted under tough questioning by Burmila that there was no evidence to support the claim, which the judge has said was inadmissible evidence.

Defense attorney Steve Greenberg said Thursday that prosecutors are bent on proving Savio, neighbors and others were afraid of Peterson as backhanded way to try to prove he committed murder.

"So far we have a jury that thinks that everyone is afraid of Mr. Peterson. How is that fair to Mr. Peterson?" Greenberg said in arguing for a mistrial. "What evidence do they have that he did anything wrong. (They have) nothing. So what they want is to make him look like a bad guy."

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