This is a rush transcript from "On the Record," May 22, 2009. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.
JAMIE COLBY, FOX NEWS GUEST HOST: We’re talking bombshell, bombshell news today. The Will Country state's attorney said the Drew Peterson tried to hire a hitman to kill third wife, Kathleen Savio, that Peterson offered 25 smackers for the murder of his wife.
The state's attorney also said Peterson told a fellow police officer in 2004 that the divorce from Kathleen was going to ruin him financial, and that his, quote, "life would be easier if we were just dead."
FOX News’ Jim Murphy, our producer inside the courtroom in Illinois, is joining me on the phone. Jim these are stunning statements from the state's attorney. Is this something you think was presented to the grand jury?
JIM MURPHY, FOX NEWS (Via telephone): It was not discussed in court today whether or not that would presented to the grand jury. But I think you described it perfectly. It certainly was a bombshell.
When I came into the courtroom today, I was sitting near, relative to Stacy Peterson as well as the Savio family. Obviously, there could be very visible reaction, but you could tell there were shaken by that news today.
COLBY: Absolutely. And the timeline of when it happened, the potential purchase of a hit man for $25,000 was just weeks before she was found dead in that dry bathtub. And then the comment to the officer also around the time that there were about to decide how much alimony he was going to have to pay.
The judge denied reducing a $20 million bail, and $20 million is considered high in that state for what he is indicted for, these charges.
So do you know why he did it? Did it have anything to do with the fact that Drew Peterson benefited financially from Kathleen Savio's death and that money might be used for bail?
MURPHY: Certainly. There were a couple of strong points that James Glasswell (ph) the Will County state's attorney made today, one being that Drew Peterson violated a very serious oath, that to serve and protect as a police officer. And he thought he should be held to a higher standard.
The other point that he talked quite a bit about was the finances. He had a life-insurance policy on Kathleen Savio. As a result of her death he gets $25,000 a year for the two children that they had together. So certainly finances were a strong part of the argument.
And in talking about the bond, $20 million is a bit much. But James Glasswell (ph) also pointed out that there are several people in custody on murder charges that have a $10 million bond, there are a couple more that have a $5 million bond, and there is another one that has no bond. So it's not that unusual.
COLBY: Jim, great job in court today. I have got to run. Thank you so much.
COLBY: Here they are. The legal panel is back.
Joining us in Washington, D.C., criminal defense attorneys Bernie Grimm and Ted Williams. Guys, good to see you. In California, former assistance D.A. in San Francisco, Jim Hammer. Good evening.
TED WILLIAMS, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Hi, Jamie.
COLBY: Jim, you first. Did the prosecutor need to release this information today, because it sure sounds like it stunned the family's that a hitman was offered $25,000, at least he is alleging this?
JIM HAMMER, FORMER SAN FRANCISCO ASSISTANT D.A.: I think off the air I heard Bernie call an audible foul for unnecessary roughness. That is -- the evidence doesn't get any better than this, Jamie. It warms my prosecutor's heart.
And if this evidence pans out, and we don't know that it will, with a strong witness, it's over. Case, game, set, match, as Ted used to say. The game is over.
COLBY: He did say that.
Ted, given that, and let's just mentioned to the viewers that this week, human remains were found, believed to be a female, but the initial autopsy was inconclusive -- very close to where drew lived with Stacy and also very close to where Lisa Stebic, who has also been missing for about the same time, lived. And that case is getting more attention as the investigation continues into the disappearance of both of these mothers of children.
So the question is, this new information -- is there any chance he could be indicted now on the disappearance and suspected murder of white four?
WILLIAMS: He certainly could if they can come up with sufficient evidence, and, clearly, if the autopsies show that one of these individuals are directly connected to Drew Peterson. But I have got to tell my good brother Jim Hammer out there -- and let me make sure everyone is clear -- I am not an apologist for Drew Peterson. I believe clearly he had something to do with both of his wives being missing.
But the question is, you have someone who is now coming forward -- remember that Savio went missing in March of 2004. So you have a hitman is coming forward, perhaps, saying he was offered $25,000.
The $64,000 question, Jamie, is where was he in March of 2004?
COLBY: Right. And I am glad you brought that up -- and, actually, you said missing. She was dead. She was in a bathtub that Michael Baden and I went to go look at. And it is creepy, because the house that Mrs. Savio lived in with Drew Peterson was like four doors away from where Drew lived with Stacy, ultimately.
And the question is we know that she was dead in a dry bathtub. Two autopsies after she was exhumed finds that it was murder. He is indicted now for it.
But I do not hear any direct evidence, Bernie, defense attorney, that said that Drew necessarily committed the crime. So could he walk?
BERNIE GRIMM, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Thank you for classifying defense attorney. (LAUGHTER)
If Jim Hammer had its way, everybody that got arrested would be doing two-and-a-half years in the electric chair. But that is for another show.
HAMMER: They would want you as a defense attorney, because they might walk, Bernie.
COLBY: What do you think, Bernie? Would you take this case on the defense?
GRIMM: Yes, all the time. And let me make clear, I cannot stand this guy. Not because I think he's guilty. I cannot stand him because he's a cop.
But putting that aside for a moment, you raise a good point. There are no eyewitnesses. There is no somebody standing there saying, I saw him pick up a gun, a knife a blunt force instrument.
But they're bringing in this hearsay evidence, which this new law was passed that says if you intended to kill someone to prevent them from testifying, then, essentially, their words from the grave can come back and be used against you, which is very, very powerful, as Jim knows and Ted knows, because you cannot cross-examine it.
HAMMER: The perfect witness.
COLBY: Kathleen Savio kept meticulous notes about everything that happened with Drew. And you guys did such a good job that we will bring you back after the break. Stay right where you are.
WILLIAMS: OK, and thank you.
COLBY: More with the boys, next.
COLBY: And the legal panel is back for a lightning round. Guys, 20 seconds each, OK?
Let me start with you, Jim. The first rule that we learned when you defend a criminal is tell them to shut out. Drew Peterson has done a lot of talking. Is the prosecutor going be able to use this to his advantage?
HAMMER: Everything he said is coming in. That guy talked a lot. I hope they kept copies of "On the Record." I wish they could play his lawyers statements. He be dug even deeper.
COLBY: That's bad when your lawyer actually hurts you.
Ted, I want to ask you about Stacy Peterson, wife number four. She spoke to her pastor and she said that Drew told me he killed his third wife.
Under this new law that allows in what would be hearsay, do her statements to her pastor come in if she does not show up to testify?
WILLIAMS: No. Even though she may be considered unavailable. I think it is hearsay within hearsay, substantially more prejudicial and probative. And I think it would hurt the case and there would possibly be a reversal on appeal if that information came in.
COLBY: We don't have the results of the autopsy of these human remains that were found, Bernie, but if in fact they are not his Stacy Peterson, do you think they can bring in an indictment? They are still looking at the case. He's considered a suspect.
GRIMM: Still bring an indictment, yes. You can look, strangely enough, at the parallels. Jim raised it six months ago, Scott Peterson. They were ready to indict him before they found the remains of his wife. It happens. It's rare.
COLBY: Bernie, I knew you would be the one who talked longer than 20 second. It was 22.
All right, guys, I miss you. Great to see you. Have a good weekend. Thanks.
WILLIAMS: Same to you, Jamie.
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