The $20 million bond keeping Drew Peterson behind bars on murder charges won't be lowered, a judge ruled Friday, after prosecutors argued the ex-police sergeant offered someone $25,000 to kill his third wife — but then did it himself.

Peterson also told a fellow officer just a few weeks before his wife Kathleen Savio was found in a bathtub that his life would be easier "if she was just dead," prosecutors said.

The former Bolingbrook, Ill., policeman is charged with murdering Savio and staging the death to look like an accidental drowning.

Prosecutors contend that Peterson was worried that their forthcoming divorce would leave him penniless.

Peterson and his defense team were back in court in Joliet, Ill., to fight for a reduction in the hefty bond so that he could get out of jail while he awaits trial. That request was denied.

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Savio's body was found in a bathtub in 2004. Her death was initially ruled an accident, but a later autopsy on her exhumed remains declared she was the victim of a homicide. Peterson is charged with first-degree murder.

He also is a suspect in the 2007 disappearance of his fourth wife, Stacy Peterson.

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He has long maintained his innocence in both cases.

Prosecutor James Glasgow said Peterson told a fellow police officer that he would be financially ruined by a pending divorce, and life would be easier if his wife were dead.

Three weeks later, Savio was discovered dead with a gash on the back of her head, the Will County prosecutor said. Glasgow did not reveal the source of his allegation.

Peterson was arrested May 7.

Glasgow said Peterson was a flight risk because he knows how to disappear and knows he faces 20 to 60 years in jail if he's convicted.

But attorney Joel Brodsky said Peterson has not fled during trips to Mexico, California and Florida since police named him a suspect in Stacy Peterson's disappearance.

Peterson's attorneys said they planned to appeal the judge's refusal to lower his bail to under $1 million.

Savio's family — who long said they believed Peterson killed her — were shocked at the attempted hit allegations.

"Finally someone's listening to us," said Sue Doman, Savio's sister. "This is a victory for our sister, Kathleen."

Peterson, who is known for making smart-aleck remarks in the media, was subdued in court Friday. He hung his head as he left the hearing.

Prosecutors in the murder case against Peterson got their wish Thursday when a new judge was appointed to preside over his trial.

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The Associated Press contributed to this report.