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Another witness claims Drew Peterson threatened Savio before her death

Will County State's Attorney James Glasgow (top) addresses mediconclusiday seven Drew Petersmurder trial Will County Courthouse Thursday August 9 2012

Will County State's Attorney James Glasgow (top) addresses the media at the conclusion of day seven of the Drew Peterson murder trial at the Will County Courthouse Thursday, August 9, 2012, in Joliet. | Matthew Grotto~Sun-Times Media

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Updated: September 11, 2012 6:13AM

Hammering away at the latest witness to tell the Drew Peterson jury the former Bolingbrook cop’s third wife warned he wanted her dead, one of Peterson’s attorneys asked why she didn’t go to Kathleen Savio’s wake after Savio was found dead in March 2004.

“I did not want to come face to face with her husband,” said Mary Parks, a former classmate of Savio’s at Joliet Junior College.

And Thursday, as she shared her story her in front of the very man she had tried to avoid, Parks rarely looked in Peterson’s direction. Dressed in blue and motioning to her own neck, Parks said a shaken Savio unzipped the neck of her fleece top and showed her three red marks. She said Peterson put them there a day earlier.

“He grabbed her by the neck and he pinned her down,” Parks said, recounting what she claims Savio told her in fall 2003.

As Peterson allegedly held her down, Savio told Parks he asked a frightening question.

“She said that her husband at that point said to her, ‘Why don’t you just die?’” Parks said.

Now a nurse in graduate school, Parks was the latest in a parade of witnesses to tell jurors Savio reported an threat from Peterson. Peterson’s day had one bright spot, though. His son Kris — who turned 18 Wednesday — visited him in the courtroom and signed paperwork Peterson’s attorney said will end a wrongful death suit filed against him.

Relatives of Savio had filed a wrongful death suit on behalf of Savio’s estate. But the two sons Peterson and Savio had together have stood behind Peterson, saying they didn’t think he killed their mother.

First Thomas and now Kris Peterson have signed paperwork once they became adults at age 18 opting out of the suit.

But before that happened, Peterson listened as Parks said Savio looked as if “she was in shock” while describing his purported attack.

Peterson’s attorneys hammered her for offering different time frames for the alleged attack and her conversation with Savio. She acknowledged she at one point said it occurred in fall 2002.

“Yes, I misspoke,” she said.

Peterson lawyer Steve Greenberg also noted she initially told investigators the conversation took place before a class at the community college, though transcripts show she didn’t have any classes with Savio in fall 2003.

He questioned Parks about why she didn’t go to authorities with her account of the alleged attack until meeting with the Illinois State Police in August 2008, months after Peterson fourth wife, Stacy, had vanished.

Park said she initially called the Will County state’s attorney’s office shortly after Savio’s death to ask if there was an investigation occurring. But she admitted she called from a pay phone and offered no information when told there was no ongoing investigation into Savio’s death.

After hearing Savio’s account of the attack, Parks said she encouraged her friend to call police.

She even offered to let Savio and her two sons move into her home, Parks said, though Savio declined.

But Parks said Savio told her she carried a cell phone with her everywhere — even inside her own home — because she feared for her safety.

Prosecutors initially tried to allow Parks to testify about an alleged 2003 conversation in which Savio relayed that Peterson wanted to get “everything” in their divorce battle. Prosecutors maintain he killed her to keep her from collecting a large chunk of his pension and assets from a bar he had owned.

“She told me that he said he wants it all, that he wants the children, he wants the house, he wants the businesses, he wants everything,” Parks said.

But after wrangling with defense attorneys over the issue, prosecutors agreed not to question Parks about the divorce in front of jurors.

Parks broke down and cried one time during her testimony in the afternoon. She and the jury left the courtroom while she composed herself.

Later, Peterson’s attorneys claimed her testimony was “made up.” She had difficulty even remembering when Savio told her about the alleged attack, Greenberg said.

He also mocked her for crying.

“How can you believe anything she said?” Greenberg said. “Then when she thought she was in trouble, she started crying.”

The jury went home without hearing from another witness, but lawyers remained to argue a handful of motions. And Peterson’s defense team scored a handful of small victories.

Burmila ruled former Savio divorce attorney Harry Smith can’t testify about what Savio expected to get out of her bitter divorce with Peterson. He said locksmith Chris Wolzen can testify about the night Savio’s body was found, but prosecutors can’t talk about a lock-pick set Peterson purportedly had unless they can prove it was used to break into Savio’s home the weekend she died.

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