JOLIET, Ill. – Drew Peterson – the swaggering Chicago-area police officer who gained notoriety after his much-younger fourth wife vanished in 2007 – was sentenced to 38 years in prison on Thursday for murdering his third wife.
The sentence came moments after Peterson shocked the courtroom with a rare public outburst of anger as he proclaimed his innocence in the death of Kathleen Savio.
“I did not kill Kathleen!” he shouted at the top of his lungs.
After his courtroom outburst, Peterson addressed the judge with a rambling speech, claiming he had been railroaded.
Illinois does not have the death penalty, and the 59-year-old Peterson had faced a maximum 60-year prison term.
Jurors convicted Peterson in September in Savio’s 2004 death. Neighbors found the 40-year-old’s body in a dry bathtub at home with a gash on her head – her hair soaked in blood.
Peterson is also a suspect in the disappearance of Stacy Peterson – who was 23 years old when she vanished – but he hasn’t been charged in her case. It was her disappearance that led authorities to take another look at Savio’s death and eventually reclassify it from an accident to a homicide.