St. Louis Prosecutor's Office Is Such A Mess Judges Are Dismissing Murder Cases

AP Photo/Jeff Roberson

St. Louis has a serious crime problem, but unfortunately its leadership doesn’t appear up to the task of addressing it. As the city’s Post-Dispatch newspaper reports, Circuit Attorney Kim Gardner’s office has seen three murder cases dismissed in the past week, and the paper blames the moves on problems in the office itself.

The three dropped murder cases are the consequence of continued turnover within the Circuit Attorney’s Office, and its apparent failure to manage its caseload as the rollback of pandemic-era court restrictions allows more jury trials to take place.

The Post-Dispatch previously reported a turnover of more than 100% in the Circuit Attorney’s Office, with more than 90 prosecutors leaving the office since Circuit Attorney Kimberly M. Gardner’s first term began in 2017.

The latest data from the St. Louis Circuit Court shows that Gardner’s office has dismissed 34% of all felony cases disposed of this year, down from 36% last year. In 2019, the office dismissed 32% of cases; in 2018 it was 23% and in 2017 it was 15%. From 2008 through 2016, before Gardner took office, the yearly share of dismissed felony cases ranged from 10% to 15%.

So, fewer felonies are being prosecuted, including some murder cases, all while shootings and homicides are soaring. It’s no wonder that some St. Louis residents are choosing to protect themselves rather than relying on an incompetent local government to ensure their safety.

A man was shot and killed while attempting to rob a person in downtown St. Louis late Sunday night, St. Louis police said.

The shooting took place in the 500 block of N. 14th Street, about a block south of Washington Avenue, around 11:40 p.m. Officers said the preliminary investigation suggests the man was trying to rob a victim at the location when he was shot.

Expect to see more defensive gun uses like that if Kim Gardner can’t fix issues like this:

Circuit Judge Jason Sengheiser on Wednesday dismissed the murder case against Brandon Campbell, 30, which appeared to have been neglected after its assigned prosecutor took maternity leave earlier this year. Campbell was charged in December with fatally shooting Randy Moore, 30, last year. Charges said surveillance video showed Campbell arrive in a Chrysler 300 and argue with Moore before shooting him as Moore walked away.

Sengheiser blamed Gardner’s office for failing to prosecute the case.

“The Circuit Attorney’s Office is ultimately the party responsible for protecting public safety by charging and then prosecuting those it believes commit crimes,” Sengheiser’s order said. “In a case like this where the Circuit Attorney’s office has essentially abandoned its duty to prosecute those it charges with crimes, the court must impartially enforce the law and any resultant threat to public safety is the responsibility of the Circuit Attorney’s Office.”

In response, Gardner’s office released a statement full of meaningless bureaucratic-speak, while failing to fully address the murder cases that have been dismissed.

“Upon review of our internal policies and procedures regarding Family Medical Leave, we have determined that corrective measures are needed to further prevent any future repeat occurrence of the incident in question,” Gardner’s statement said. “The suggestion, however, that there have been additional instances that have occurred like the one in question have not been substantiated.”

Gardner’s statement also alleged that the murder suspect was taken back into custody, though the St. Louis police reported on Monday that Campbell was still on the loose.

Unfortunately, St. Louis residents chose to keep Gardner as St. Louis Circuit Attorney last year, at least in part because of her zealous prosecution of Mark and Patricia McCloskey, the couple who were facing felony charges filed by Gardner after displaying firearms outside their home as protesters marched through their gated community last summer. Gardner was ultimately yanked from the case last December after a judge found that Gardner had improperly used the case as fundraising fodder for her re-election campaign, but by then she’d already won another term as the city’s top prosecutor.

So, unless Gardner ends up resigning her office, St. Louis residents are stuck with a DA’s office that’s generating fewer felony prosecutions, seeing murder cases dismissed, and is run by incompetent prosecutor who seems to be more interested in garnering headlines than obtaining convictions for violent crimes. Elections have consequences, and the re-election of Kim Gardner as St. Louis Circuit Attorney is having a disastrous effect on public safety.