Today a grand jury indicted the McCloskeys for a June incident when a group of protesters walked onto their private property on their way to protest at the Mayor’s house. The McCloskeys cam out of their home armed with guns to protect their property. Trespassing charges against the protesters were all dropped but progressive DA Kim Gardner brought charges against the McCloskeys. Their attorney said the indictment is no surprise:
Their attorney, Joel Schwartz, said he wasn’t surprised by the indictment, saying the grand jury didn’t have all the facts.
“Once all the facts are out, it will be clear the McCloskeys committed no crime whatsoever,” Schwartz said. “Frankly because the grand jury is not an adversarial process and defense counsel are not allowed in there and I have no idea what was stated to the grand jury and what law was given to the grand jury.”
The McCloskeys have been facing the charge for brandishing weapons for weeks. What’s new today is an additional charge of tampering with evidence:
Lawyer Joel Schwartz said he was told a grand jury indicted his clients on felony counts of unlawful use of a weapon and evidence tampering. He said he had no details. A St. Louis court clerk said the indictment was filed Tuesday but that she was not authorized to provide a copy.
There has been a complaint of tampering with evidence in this case but it was made by the McCloskeys against Assistant Circuit Attorney Chris Hinckley. Back in July KSDK reported that when Mrs. McCloskey’s gun was turned over by her attorney it was not operable. The McCloskeys claimed that particular gun had been intentionally rendered incapable of firing, with a spring placed in front of the firing pin, because it was used as a prop in a previous lawsuit. That meant the gun couldn’t have been fired when she held it back in June (though the protesters couldn’t have known that). But the McCloskeys claimed that Chris Hinkley ordered the gun stripped and reassembled such that it could be operational.
So at this point it’s not clear how the grand jury came up with charges of tampering against the McCloskeys but it seems to be the opposite of what the McCloskeys themselves have claimed.
The McCloskeys had a hearing earlier today before the grand jury issued the indictments and they and their attorney spoke to the press outside the courthouse.
“Every single human being that was in front of my house was a criminal trespasser,” McCloskey said. “They broke down our gate. They trespassed on our property. Not a single one of those people is now charged with anything. We’re charged with felonies that could cost us four years of our lives and our law licenses.”
Here’s Mark McCloskey’s brief statement from this morning. As you’ll see, he was specifically asked about the issue with the non-functioning gun which was reassembled and declared functional. “If that doesn’t frighten all of you, that the government is willing to do that just to take a political advantage of this case,” he said. I guess we’ll have to wait a bit longer to see why the grand jury turned this particular claim around on the McCloskeys.