Lawyer to argue Vaughn’s trial tainted by Drew Peterson case
BY JON SEIDEL Staff Reporter firstname.lastname@example.org November 25, 2012 6:50PM
Drew Peterson was convicted of killing his third wife, Kathleen Savio. | Police photo
Updated: December 27, 2012 6:18AM
When Christopher Vaughn’s lawyer makes his pitch Monday that his client deserves a new trial, he’s expected to argue that the Oswego man’s chances were tainted in part by media coverage of the Drew Peterson trial this summer.
George Lenard, Vaughn’s lead defense attorney, filed a motion last week alleging several errors in the trial that ended with Vaughn’s conviction for the murder of his 34-year-old wife, Kimberly, and their three children.
And Lenard claimed, among other things, that Vaughn didn’t get a fair trial because it was going on at the same time as Peterson’s trial. He also complained about the extensive media coverage of Peterson’s trial, saying publicity over both prevented “the maintenance of the impartial jury if one had been impaneled.”
Reached by phone Sunday, Lenard declined to comment on the motion.
Vaughn’s Aug. 13 trial date was set in February, more than three months before a judge scheduled Peterson’s trial for July 23.
The scheduling meant the trials of Will County’s two most notorious murder defendants would overlap — and take place in neighboring courtrooms.
Peterson, the former Bolingbrook cop who was convicted of murdering his third wife, Kathleen Savio, had already become the subject of a made-for-TV movie by the time his case went to trial. The case was in full-swing by the time lawyers began picking Vaughn’s jury next door. The hallway outside his courtroom in Joliet was often full of reporters from across the country.
But many of them paid far less attention to Vaughn’s case. Peterson’s lawyers spoke in front of cameras several times a day, feeding fresh content to TV stations, while Lenard and other members of Vaughn’s defense team kept a low profile.
A jury convicted Vaughn of shooting and killing his wife and three children — Abigayle, 12; Cassandra, 11, and Blake, 8 — in the family’s SUV. Police found the vehicle parked off a frontage road west of Interstate 55 on June 14, 2007.
The family was supposed to be on the way to a water park in Springfield.
Prosecutors said Vaughn slaughtered his family so he could go live a life of isolation in the Canadian wilderness. His sentencing hearing is Monday. He faces a minimum of life in prison.