JOLIET, Ill. — Drew Peterson — the swaggering Chicago-area policeman who gained notoriety after his fourth wife vanished — lost his characteristic cool in court Thursday, screaming out his innocence before a judge sentenced him to 38 years in prison for the murder of a previous wife.
"I did not kill Kathleen!" Peterson shouted, leaning into a courtroom microphone and emphasizing each of the five words.
Without missing a beat, his dead wife's sister, Susan Doman, shouted back, "Yes, you did! You liar!" before the judge ordered sheriff's deputies to remove her from the courtroom.
For years, Peterson had casually dismissed and even joked about suggestions he killed his third wife, Kathleen Savio, or that he was behind the disappearance of his fourth wife, Stacy Peterson.
His sudden explosion of fury Thursday as he stepped up to address the judge who would sentence him for Savio's 2004 death left spectators gasping. Lead state prosecutor James Glasgow said it exposed the real Drew Peterson — the one more than capable of murder.
"We all got an opportunity to see a psychopath reveal himself in open court," Glasgow told reporters shortly after Thursday's hearing. "That shrill ... screech. ... That's the guy that killed Kathy."
Illinois does not have the death penalty, and the 59-year-old Peterson had faced a maximum 60-year prison term. Judge Edward Burmila gave him four years' credit for time he has served since his 2009 arrest.
- Allow student loan bankruptcies, but hold...
- Police, protesters collide again in Ferguson
- 'Don't know' if Missouri teen shot with hands up
- Texas Gov. Perry assembles high-powered legal...
- The Los Angeles Unified School District ducks...
- Want to increase attraction in your...
- Car crash in Argentina kills 3 relatives of pope
- No arrest for Texas Gov. Rick Perry but mug...
- Texas Gov. Perry says indictment is... 22
- 'Don't know' if Missouri teen shot with... 22
- Obama heading back to DC in rare... 20
- Texas' Perry indicted for coercion for... 19
- Police identify Missouri officer who... 16
- Police, protesters collide again in... 14
- Allow student loan bankruptcies, but... 14
- Emerging solar plants scorch birds in... 13