ST. LOUIS – FOX 2 monitored at least five different courtrooms Tuesday to witness frustration from both victims’ families and judges.
In one courtroom, Judge Rex Burleson warned prosecutors to get cases moving. Judge Michael Noble was in another courtroom, demanding answers from the prosecution that he never seemed to receive.
Outside the courtroom, Suketha Rankin said, “I’m here for it all.” Rankin fights for justice for her son and granddaughter, who were murdered in their car in the Central West End in January 2021.
“That’s why I fight so hard,” she said. “I am the voice. I won’t be silenced. Everybody wants fairness for the suspects. We’re victims.”
Rankin is one of many people who continue facing justice delays. FOX 2 checked on several courtrooms in which trials were scheduled to begin, but the listed prosecutors have resigned. That’s when we learned attorney Rufus Tate Jr. had been sworn in as a special assistant prosecutor to help out. He was often with Assistant Circuit Attorney Rob Huq, who recently acknowledged to a judge that he’s overseeing nearly 700 cases.
In the case of State v. Sturgeon Stewart, a murder trial had been scheduled for this week, but prosecutors were not ready and asked for a delay.
“Your office needs to understand; we expect cases to move,” Burlison said. “We’re not just going to get into a habit of delays. If the state’s not ready next month, then I will have to make a decision.”
Across the street, Judge Michael Noble demanded answers about another case that was supposed to go to trial last month: the defendants accused of killing Rankin’s son and granddaughter.
Noble asked Tuesday who authorized the Central West End murder case to be dismissed and refiled. An assistant prosecutor said he did not know but that it would have to be either Circuit Attorney Kim Gardner or her first assistant, Serena Wilson-Griffin.
Noble responded, “You can’t tell me who did the act?”
The assistant prosecutor answered, “Gardner, Wilson-Griffin, or both.”
Noble asked, “Final answer?”
The assistant prosecutor said, “Yes.”
The judge is now considering whether to dismiss the case entirely, as the victim’s family said they’ll keep coming back until their cases are resolved.
“That’s what I’m here for, and that’s what I’m going to do,” Rankin said.