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Drew Peterson pleads not guilty in murder-for-hire plot

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CHESTER, IL (KTVI) - Drew Peterson, the former suburban Chicago police sergeant convicted of murdering his third wife and suspected in the disappearance of his fourth, is pleading not guilty to charges he tried to hire someone to kill the prosecutor who put him in prison.

Security was heavy as Drew Peterson, 61, arrived at the Randolph County Courthouse in Chester, Illinois for a preliminary hearing before Judge Richard Brown.

Peterson is accused of hatching a murder-for-hire plot from inside the Menard Correctional Center against Will County State`s Attorney James Glasgow.

But in court Tuesday morning, Peterson appeared to surprise many, including the judge, by announcing he was waiving his right to the hearing.

His court-appointed public defender, Lucas Liefer, explained the decision to reporters.

'It wasn`t a last-minute decision, but we didn`t want anybody to know,' Liefer said. 'We don`t want this case being tried before a jury is ever impaneled."

The State alleges sometime between September 2013 and December 2014, Drew Peterson tried to hire someone to kill Glasgow, the prosecutor who put Peterson behind bars in 2012, for murdering his third wife, Kathleen Savio.

Peterson is also suspected in the disappearance of his fourth wife, Stacy Peterson.

Stacy`s sister Cassandra Cales was in the courtroom.

'That's Drew,' Cales said. 'Always thinking he can get away with anything. Now that he is incarcerated he is just getting caught for everything."

Investigators secretly recorded some of Peterson's conversations in prison, which helped lead to the charges of Solicitation of Murder and Solicitation of Murder for Hire, both Class X felonies.

Peterson is expected to argue the recordings were a set up.

The trial will likely be held in July.

Even if Peterson is not convicted in this case, the earliest he could be paroled on the murder conviction would be the year 2047 when he would be 93 years old.

He is appealing that conviction.