By MICHAEL TARM, Associated Press
JOLIET, Ill. (AP) — The defense at Drew Peterson's murder trial lashed out at the believability of a key state witness on Friday, accusing her of jazzing up her testimony to improve her odds of profiting from a movie and book deal.
The sister of Kathleen Savio, Peterson's third wife, testified that Savio once told her he had put a knife to her throat, then warned her he could kill her and make it look like an accident. Peterson, a former suburban Chicago police officer, is accused of killing Savio in 2004.
"She was terrified," Susan Doman said, recalling her sister's demeanor when she recounted the incident.
Peterson, 58, has pleaded not guilty to first-degree murder. Savio was found dead in her bathtub with a gash on her head and her hair soaked in blood, though Peterson wasn't charged until after his fourth wife, Stacy Peterson, disappeared in 2007. Peterson isn't charged in Stacy Peterson's disappearance.
During cross examination, the contract that Doman signed in 2009 was projected across a courtroom screen. Defense attorney Joe Lopez noted that it guaranteed Doman at least $30,000 if the movie made it to theaters.
He also cited provisions that made the movie's production contingent on a guilty verdict and allowed for fictionalizing aspects of the story for dramatic effect.
"So, the more dirt you throw at Drew the more positive for you," Lopez said. "If he isn't convicted that wouldn't be positive... that wouldn't make a very good movie."
The occasionally rattled Doman repeatedly insisted her primary motive was to get word out about victims of domestic violence, saying her sister was among those victims.
"I was trying to let my sister have a voice," she told jurors.
The legal saga of the crass, motorcycle-loving ex-cop has already inspired one cable-TV movie, A Lifetime Television production called "Drew Peterson: Untouchable," that premiered earlier this year.
Prosecutors called four witnesses Friday in a bid to fill in their portrait of the Drew Peterson they hope jurors will also see: a man as conniving and greedy as he is creepy and mean-spirited.
During her testimony, Doman described how she and the rest of her family had gathered at Savio's house the day after her body was discovered. Peterson unexpectedly knocked hard on the door, was let in and eventually walked up to the bathroom where Savio's lifeless body was found.
Doman said that when she asked him what he was doing, he responded that "he would take care of it and was just wiping the blood (up)." Then days later, Doman told jurors, Peterson taunted her about supposedly finding Savio's will by saying the document didn't leave anything to her other sister, Anna.
"'Ha! Ha! I found the will between the floorboards and tell your sister, Anna, she's not getting anything,'" Peterson said, according to Doman.
Savio's boyfriend, Steve Maniaci, also testified Friday.
He said he saw no bruises on Savio's body three days before she died. Prosecutors' contention is that the bruises, including one on her buttocks, could have been the result of an attack and not of an accidental fall.
Visibly uncomfortable, Maniaci was asked extensively about his sexual relations with Savio, and he even had to use a laser pointer to indicate where on the floor in Savio's home they had sex three days before she was found dead. That's why he knew there were no major bruises on her body, he told jurors.
But during cross-examination, the defense sought to suggest that the bruises may have been caused during the sex between Maniaci and Savio. Lopez also asked Maniaci if Savio bruised easily.
"She used to tell me that," Maniaci conceded.
Follow Michael Tarm at www.twitter.com/mtarm
Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.