M. Spencer Green / AP
Drew Peterson is shown in a 2009 photo.
By NBC News staff
Updated at 3:45 p.m. ET: A jury has found Drew Peterson guilty of both counts of first-degree murder in the death of his third wife, Kathleen Savio, NBC Chicago reported Thursday.
There were loud gasps in the courtroom as the verdict was delivered, the station reported.
Peterson, a former Chicago-area policeman, was still sitting at his table with lawyers standing around him as jurors were released.
Outside the courthouse, people cheered, the station reported.
"This is better than the White Sox winning the World Series," Savio's brother, Nick Savio, said through tears outside the courthouse.
A seven-man, five-woman jury spent about 14 hours deliberating over whether to convict a man based solely on hearsay and circumstantial evidence. In the end, the words of Savio's friends and close relations were enough to convince them of his guilt.
In the last hours of deliberation, jurors came back with a question, their fifth in the deliberations.
"What does unanimous mean?"
Judge Edward Burmila, presiding over the trial in Joliet, Ill., told jurors "unanimous" means agreed to by all. The state wanted the judge to refer them to the jury instructions.
What does the question mean? Attorney Joe Lopez was heard saying he's seen this type of question three times before and each time it means a "not guilty" verdict. Defense attorney Ralph Meczyk said he thinks it means a hung jury.
If jurors come back split, Judge Burmilla is expected to instruct them to go back and work it out.
Jurors returned Thursday for their second day of deliberating after hearing five weeks of testimony and reaching no verdict the day before.
Peterson, 58, is charged with two counts of first-degree murder in connection with the death of his third wife, Kathleen Savio, found dead in a bathtub in 2004.
Attorney Joel Brodsky told reporters earlier in the day Peterson is in good spirits and prepared for the verdict.
"He knows he's innocent," Brodsky said Thursday morning, "hopes he's not guilty because he knows he's not guilty."
Jurors asked a string of questions Wednesday, requesting photos, transcripts, phone records and a letter written by Savio. Judge Edward Burmila allowed jurors access to phone records from the weekend Savio died, as well as autopsy photos but decided against giving them the transcripts of two state witnesses.
The jurors also requested dinner ordered in as they deliberated a little longer before heading home for the night. They returned to court at 9 a.m. Thursday.
"Another day of waiting," Brodsky said. "He's been in jail three-and-a-half years, so it's not like he hasn't thought about this day, if it is today."
The lawyer told reporters a quick verdict is best and noted three to four days could mean a hung jury, "but you can't really read anything into it."
This article includes reporting by NBCChicago.com staff.
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