Word broke late Tuesday that Mark and Patricia McCloskey, the St. Louis couple who became national news after they displayed firearms and pointed them at protesters who had trespassed into their private street during a march back in June, have been indicted by a grand jury in St. Louis, Missouri.
According to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, the couple aren’t just facing felony charges of unlawful use of a weapon, but are also accused 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.
“I am not surprised that the grand jury indicted them but I’ll certainly be interested in what was presented to the grand jury,” said Schwartz, who plans to request a transcript or recording of the proceedings if such records were made.A spokeswoman for Circuit Attorney Kimberly M. Gardner could not be reached.
Earlier Tuesday, a St. Louis judge postponed the McCloskeys’ morning court appearance until next Wednesday.
I’ll be very curious to see the allegations of evidence tampering, given that even St. Louis Circuit Attorney Kim Gardner hadn’t publicly accused the couple of that particular crime. Instead, it was Gardner’s office that was accused of taking apart and reassembling the gun wielded by Patricia McCloskey in an attempt to show that it was “readily capable of lethal use.”
Assistant Circuit Attorney Chris Hinckley ordered crime lab staff members to field strip the handgun and found it had been assembled incorrectly. Specifically, the firing pin spring was put in front of the firing pin, which was backward, and made the gun incapable of firing, according to documents obtained by 5 On Your Side.
Firearms experts then put the gun back together in the correct order and test-fired it, finding that it worked, according to the documents.
Crime lab workers photographed the disassembly and reassembly of the gun, according to the documents.
Patricia McCloskey and her husband, Mark McCloskey, have said the handgun Patricia McCloskey waved at protesters was inoperable because they had used it as a prop during a lawsuit they once filed against a gun manufacturer. In order to bring it into a courtroom, they made it inoperable.
Their attorney, Joel Schwartz, confirmed to 5 On Your Side that the McCloskeys intentionally misplaced the firing pin on the gun and that it was in that condition when Patricia McCloskey waved it at protesters and turned it into their former attorney Al Watkins.
“It’s disheartening to learn that a law enforcement agency altered evidence in order to prosecute an innocent member of the community,” Schwartz said.
It could be that the evidence tampering charge is related to that firearm, but we’ll have to wait until the indictment is unsealed to know for certain.
In the meantime, the formal indictment now puts Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt back in the spotlight. Back in July, Schmitt filed a motion to intervene in the case, calling the prosecution of the couple “extraordinary” and arguing that the state’s Castle Doctrine protected the actions of the couple. Missouri Governor Brad Parson has also stated that he would pardon the pair if they’re convicted in the case, but with both Schmitt and Parson up for re-election in November, there’s no guarantee that either will be in office when and if the case against the McCloskeys go to trial. Next month’s election, which is already a high stakes contest for gun owners across the country, just got even more important for the McCloskeys themselves.