ST. LOUIS – On Wednesday, July 14, a St. Louis judge dropped murder charges against an accused killer.
A prosecutor from St. Louis Circuit Attorney Kim Gardner’s office never showed up to court hearings in May, June, and again on Wednesday, July 14 because she was on maternity leave.
There were two other murder cases dismissed this week because of absent or unprepared St. Louis City prosecutors.
Fox 2’s legal expert Attorney Chet Pleban provided details out on the Lakeside Renovation and Design Weather Deck.
Pleban has been working on cases with the St. Louis Circuit Attorney’s office since the 1970s. He said he has never seen anything like these recent circumstances in all of his time as an attorney.
“Clearly there is a problem with her internal management system that needs a quick fix, someway, somehow. But it is inexcusable that you would have three continuances, three times that she doesn’t show up for a murder case,” Pleban said.
He also said giving this case to an attorney who is on maternity leave could be a tactic to postpone having to try that particular case.
More than 90 prosecutors have left the circuit attorney’s office since Gardner took over in 2017.
“Some of those were career prosecutors and they had spent their lives prosecuting murder cases, they leave the office, you replace those with younger inexperienced lawyers,” Pleban said. “The inexperience of that particular individual is going to be a problem with getting a conviction.”
Judge Jason Sengheiser dropped the murder charges because the defendant, Brandon Campbell, has a right to a speedy trial. Campbell was charged with murder in December.
Pleban said Campbell is also entitled to discovery, which is all of the evidence the prosecutors are going to use to convict him. As of May, the defense lawyer did not even have the discovery evidence, and this is due again to the prosecutor assigned to the case being on maternity leave.
“I don’t know what the problem is with people leaving that office, career prosecutors. So you’ve got to fix it with competent people coming in to replace the people that left. Don’t know how she’s going to do that,” Pleban said.