CHICAGO -- Drew Peterson wanted to make sure he was heard when he was given one last chance to speak Thursday, shortly before being sentenced to 38 years in prison for the murder of his third wife, Kathleen Savio.
Declining to speak from the defense table, where there was no microphone, the former Bolingbrook, Ill., police sergeant shuffled to the witness stand in his blue jail scrubs and orange jail-issued shoes and began quietly.
"I hope I don't aggravate the situation," he turned and told the judge. Then Peterson screamed into the microphone, "I did not kill Kathleen!" startling almost everyone in the courtroom.
"Yes you did!" Savio's sister Sue Doman yelled back from the gallery, prompting Judge Edward Burmila to order her out of the courtroom.
It was an odd end to a case built on oddities and circus-like sideshows. For the next 40 minutes, Peterson cried, raged and whispered, challenged the state's attorney to look him in the eye and indulged in self-pity as he unleashed his multitudinous thoughts like a character in a Dostoevsky novel.
The 59-year-old said he expects to die in prison. Barring any successful appeal, he won't be eligible for release until he's 93.
Peterson claimed that lies and mistakes by witnesses, prosecutors and police lead to his conviction, and made disparaging remarks about Savio's family, attorneys and others involved in the case. His defense attorneys called the monologue an impassioned plea for leniency, but prosecutors said it was proof that Peterson is a psychopath.
But in describing himself on the stand Thursday, Peterson said he was maligned and misunderstood.
"Until this happened, I thought I was viewed as a great guy," Peterson said, listing his litany of public and private good deeds before announcing he planned to tattoo the phrase "No good deed goes unpunished" across his shoulders.
"The state took an accident and staged a homicide," Peterson said, before turning to the judge. "Can I get some water?"