Mark and Patricia McCloskey, the St. Louis couple who gained national attention after displaying firearms from their front yard as hundreds of protesters marched through their private neighborhood earlier this year, entered “not guilty” pleas to charges of unlawful use of a weapon and evidence tampering on Wednesday.
Joel Schwartz, who’s representing the trial attorneys in their criminal case, spoke to reporters outside the St. Louis courthouse where today’s hearing took place, telling the press that “The fact that Kim Gardner and the Circuit Attorney’s office have chosen to use their judicial resources to prosecute the McCloskeys, who were clearly innocent of any crime, committed no crime whatsoever, is sort of a travesty.”
Schwartz went on to say that the McCloskeys would not consider entering into pre-trial diversion, which Gardner had originally recommended before a grand jury indicted the pair. Schwartz says that since Gardner’s comments this summer, he’s had no offers from the Circuit Attorney’s office to allow the couple to enter into the program, but it’s a moot point since Schwartz is adamant that the McCloskeys plan on fighting the charges in court.
“It’s time to remove the noise, to attempt to remove the politics from this case. Deal with the facts. The facts speak for themselves. The facts will indicate that neither Patricia or Mark McCloskey committed any offense.”
Schwartz was asked whether he believed that Gardner’s prosecution of the couple was based on politics and not justice, and the attorney responded by saying there was “no doubt” in his mind that Gardner’s case has been infused from the start with political gamesmanship, noting that the couple’s case “was used in at least three of the Circuit Attorney’s ads when she was campaigning to run for Circuit Attorney.”
The McCloskeys will be back in court for a pre-trial hearing on October 28th. In the meantime, Gardner is still facing some questions of her own regarding the charges filed against the couple, including the charge of tampering with evidence.
Gardner’s Assistant Circuit Attorney Chris Hinckley ordered crime lab workers to fix the pistol Patricia McCloskey pointed at protesters, according to documents obtained by 5 On Your Side. Patricia McCloskey told police the gun was inoperable because it was used as a prop during a trial in a federal court. The McCloskeys are attorneys.
But in the grand jury indictments, prosecutors say it was Patricia McCloskey who tampered with the pistol to “impair and obstruct” her prosecution sometime between the date of the confrontation and the day her attorney turned the gun over to police, according to court documents.
What evidence did Gardner provide to the grand jury that would indicate McCloskey’s pistol was, in fact, operable when when displayed it, as opposed to already being rendered inert as the McCloskeys maintain? So far, Gardner hasn’t said what motivated her to pursue those charges, but that will certainly be a key point of contention when the couple’s preliminary hearing takes place.
In the meantime, Missouri Gov. Mike Parson has reiterated his support for the couple and his pledge to pardon the couple if they’re convicted. I still doubt that it comes to that, but with Gardner and the McCloskeys both seemingly intent to take the case before a jury, it’s definitely a possibility.