The State’s star witness took the stand Thursday and offered explosive testimony in the case against Drew Peterson. Tom Morphey, Peterson’s step-brother, testified about what he says was his involvement in the disappearance of Peterson's fourth wife, Stacy.
The testimony comes during a pre-trial hearing to decide what hearsay evidence will be admitted when Peterson goes on trial for the murder of his third wife, Kathleen Savio. The evidence can be admitted if prosecutors can show that Peterson killed either of the women to keep them from testifying.
Morphey told the judge about a meeting with Peterson on Oct. 27, 2007, where he says Peterson asked him if he loved him enough to kill for him. Morphey answered “that’s not something I want to get involved with.” He said Peterson then asked him “can you live with knowing about it?” Morphey said, “I always assumed you killed Kathleen,” to which he said Peterson responded “I would never hurt Kathleen, she was a great mother.”
During that meeting, which Morphey said happened in Peterson’s SUV while parked in an industrial park in Bolingbrook, he said Peterson complained that Stacy was cheating on him, that she wanted a divorce and wanted him out of the house in four days.
Morphey quoted Peterson as saying: "She was going to take everything from him, the kids, all the money he had earned, half his pension, which meant he would have to keep working for the rest of his life.”
Morphey said Peterson then asked him to rent a storage facility for him, where he planned to store a container.
“He said it would be airtight. He said I should check on it from time to time to make sure there was no odor coming from it,” Morphey said.
Morphey testified that Peterson said the plan was "he'd leave the container there for about six months until the smoke cleared and then dispose of it,” adding that “if something happened to him, to drop it in the canal.”
Morphey told the judge the next night, Nov. 28, 2007, after drinking more than a twelve-pack of beer, he helped Peterson carry a blue barrel out of his house, which was warm to the touch and weighed about 140 pounds.
After Stacy Peterson disappeared, State Police as well as Stacy’s friends and family, conducted numerous searches in the I&M canal and elsewhere, but never recovered her body.
After helping Peterson load the blue barrel into the back of his SUV, Morphey said Peterson took him back home, telling him “this never happened,” to which Morphey said, “I won’t tell a soul.”
Stressed out by the thought he just helped dispose of Stacy's body, Morphey said he went to a friend’s house and told him what he had done. The next day, Morphey said, he tried to commit suicide by taking 20 to 30 Xanax pills.
Also during the hearing, prosecutors played a secretly recorded phone call made Nov. 29, 2007, in which Peterson is heard telling Morphey that if police try to talk to him, he should tell them he wants to talk to his lawyer.
The defense attacked Morphey's credibility, pointing to numerous inconsistencies in his story, including the size of the blue barrel. They also raised questions about his mental state, and drug use. Morphey testified he is bi-polar.
Morphey has been granted immunity and was whisked away from the courthouse in a dark van to protect him from the media.
The hearing continues Friday.
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