ST. LOUIS – Cases were dismissed and a plea deal blown up in St. Louis Circuit Court on Monday as prosecutors scrambled to cover trials.

FOX 2 monitored a dozen cases that were scheduled for trial to see how the office is handling the case load. Three of the cases did head for trial, making them the first trials the city has seen since the first week of May.

In one case, a defendant walked out on a domestic assault plea deal, despite a warning from the judge that the man will likely be wanted soon by the feds because of it, due to a possible federal charge of being a felon in possession of a firearm. We’re not identifying the defendant because criminal charges against him were dropped as prosecutors planned on that plea deal, rather than a trial that had been scheduled for Monday. The defendant told the court, “Let the FBI come,” as he walked out. The judge told the man the charges would be refiled.

Out of the 12 scheduled St. Louis trials Monday, we found three of the cases dismissed.
One of the dismissals was a school bus assault case from 2019, in which the court dismissal noted a “failure of State necessary witnesses to appear.” The defense attorney said the failure to prosecute was not a problem with circuit attorney staffing, but rather it was just a weak case.

In our courtroom checks, we found the state did show up each time. Two of the scheduled trials were assigned to prosecutors who no longer work for the circuit attorney’s office, but we found employees who did appear and pushed the cases to later dates without controversy.

Two trials got underway, with a third to begin jury selection Tuesday.

“We are ready,” St. Louis Sheriff Vernon Betts said, explaining they had 200 jurors come in for the morning, while another 100 arrived in the afternoon.

“We’ll have enough jurors to take care of whatever the judges need done,” he said.

This all comes as talk continues over who the next circuit attorney will be. Missouri Governor Mike Parson accepted the last of the applications Monday at noon. We’ve learned 18 people have applied for the position, at least five of whom are judges.