St. Louis Circuit Attorney Kim Gardner spent months hounding the McCloskeys for displaying firearms at a mob outside their house. Gardner and her office took a lot less interest in a murder case, and as a result the suspect is on the streets. Prosecutors in Gardner’s office failed to appear at a series of pretrial hearings for Brandon Campbell, leading a judge to release him — and rip Gardner (via Newsalert):
St. Louis Circuit Attorney Kim Gardner is under fire after a judge drops murder charges against an accused killer.
The unusual move came after the prosecutor from Gardner’s office, who was assigned the case, didn’t show up to court. Now the chairman of the St Louis Aldermanic Public Safety committee wants to call Gardner in front of his committee to explain the incident.
Judge Jason Sengheiser wrote a scathing order dropping the murder charges. The accused killer, Brandon Campbell, was released from jail and is still at large. …
The judge sharply criticized Gardner’s office for the mix up saying, “The Circuit Attorney’s Office has essentially abandoned its duty to prosecute those it charges with crimes.”
Alderman Joe Vacarro wants an investigation into the failure, but a spokesman for the Mound City Bar Association blamed the judge for playing politics. The Fox reporter seems dubious at Jerryl Christmas’ blame-shifting, and for good reason:
For one thing, this wasn’t the only court appearance Gardner’s office missed. According to the local NBC News affiliate, Gardner’s office missed “multiple hearings” in Campbell’s case. They explain that prosecutors no-showed the court on May 27 after Campbell’s attorney complained about a lack of cooperation on discovery. They also missed a June 15 hearing despite getting eleven days’ notice. At that point, Sengheiser ordered full discovery in the case, but prosecutors never responded to his order.
At that point on June 30, the defense filed a motion for summary dismissal. Sengheiser ordered prosecutors to respond to the motion by July 6 with a hearing on July 12 for oral argument, and dispatched a deputy to deliver the order personally to Gardner’s office. Not only did prosecutors fail to respond to any of these orders, Campbell’s attorney produced an e-mail sent directly to Gardner herself on May 28 — to which Gardner had also never responded.
Gardner’s office tried to explain this as an unfortunate case of missed connections after the assigned prosecutor went on maternity leave, but that’s nothing more than an admission of incompetence. As Vacarro notes, this isn’t a case of, say, a misdemeanor weapons infraction. It’s a murder case, for Pete’s sake. Besides, it fails to explain why Gardner and her office didn’t respond to Sengheiser’s order and direct communication, and why it didn’t assign the pending cases in the first place.
Gardner takes the minor weapons infractions a lot more seriously than murder, apparently. The victim’s family in this case has other priorities, and accused Gardner of being “a poor excuse for a prosecutor,” especially after the string of incompetence continued after Sengheiser’s ruling — and worse:
Gardner’s office issued a revised statement at about 7 p.m. Tuesday confirming Campbell remains at large and that the office has kept Moore’s family informed about the case.
Family members said they haven’t heard anything about the case from anyone other than homicide detectives.
Moore’s sisters say Gardner’s inaction on their brother’s case is inexcusable and they learned the suspect was free from the I-Team even though state statute requires prosecutors to keep victims’ families informed of the developments in their loved ones’ cases.
In other words, Gardner and her office lied about their actions, and violated the statute governing notice to victims. “Why was it so hard to pick up the phone to call and let us know what was going on?” asked the sister of the victim. For that matter, why was it so hard to assign a fresh prosecutor to a murder case when the office knew the original prosecutor was going on maternity leave?
Gardner’s office promised to refile charges, but that’s small comfort to the Moores:
Our investigation also found the number of cases getting dismissed since Gardner took office just five years ago has doubled.
And re-filing the charges in this case offers little comfort to Brandy Veasley, another one of Randy Moore’s sisters.
“Kim Gardner is a poor excuse for a prosecutor,” she said. “It’s not fair.
“I know she tries to give the Black people chances, but on a murder? No. No.”
It’s more likely that Gardner’s only interest is in cases that boost her progressive standing for her later political career. If there’s any justice at all, that career should come to a screeching halt. Now.