Judge says he will not throw Greitens case out; trial to begin May 14

ST. LOUIS - A St. Louis circuit court judge ruled on pre-trial motions for Missouri Governor Eric Greitens' invasion of privacy case.

Greitens was accused of taking an unauthorized photo of his mistress during a 2015 affair. The defense team said in court Monday that prosecutors had still failed to produce any evidence of the photo's existence or that the governor transmitted said image electronically.

At Monday's hearing, Judge Rex Burlison said the woman accusing the governor would be allowed to testify.

Earlier this year, the woman's ex-husband released audio of the two of them discussing the photo.

Burlison asked the St. Louis Circuit Attorney's Office, which is prosecuting the case, if it had obtained the photo. The prosecution admitted it did not have the photo in its possession. Under questioning by the judge, it was revealed that the prosecution seems to think the transmission of the photo occurs when a smartphone takes a picture and stores the image in its memory inside the phone. They don’t seem to believe the alleged picture ever left the phone or was ever transmitted to another computer or cloud.

Greitens' attorneys claim the testimony of the governor's ex-mistress was tainted by the prosecution's former lead investigator, William Don Tisaby. The prosecution responded by saying the woman's testimony has remained consistent for the most part and has not been tainted by any of Tisaby's problems.

The hearing started at 11 a.m., but the attorneys right away went into the judge's chambers for a closed session that lasted some 45 minutes.

The judge also opted to strike expert witnesses for the prosecution during Monday's hearing. The first witness was said to be an expert in "image-based sexual abuse." The second and third witnesses would have testified on smartphone sounds; specifically, the differences in camera phone shutter sounds.

There could also be a decision on whether to allow some kind of audio feed during the trial. Judge Burlison has already said "no" to cameras in the courtroom.

Burlison had not yet determined if Greitens will face a jury or bench trial. The defense team had asked for a bench trial.

Approximately 80 people will be called for jury duty on both Thursday and Friday. Prospective jurors will have to fill out a questionnaire and then answer two questions in the courtroom:

1. Do you know a lot about the case because of what you heard in the media?
2. Can you serve on a jury for about week?

Jurors who can’t serve a week or know too much about the case will likely be dismissed on Thursday and Friday. Those that remain will face much more intense questioning Monday, that’s when the questionnaire will come into play.

If there are not enough jurors to be seated for the trial, the judge could elect to hear the case himself.

Greitens' trial begins next Monday, May 14.

Meanwhile, Missouri lawmakers have approved a special legislative session beginning May 18 to consider impeaching the governor for allegedly obtaining the donor list of a charity he founded for his gubernatorial run.