ST. LOUIS – A criminal defendant accused of stealing a car at gunpoint was released on an ankle monitor after repeated delays by the St. Louis Circuit Attorney’s Office.
The defendant, Levi Henning, also once faced a murder charge that was previously dropped because of prosecutor failures.
Only FOX 2 was in the courtroom when the judge faced a difficult decision, exacerbated by a no-show prosecutor.
Judge Clinton Wright acknowledged that a new prosecutor’s office administration seems intent on doing better at avoiding future justice delays. However, the robbery defendant’s lawyer, W. David Mueller, successfully argued to the judge that future progress does not negate years of neglect.
“No one showed up today for court, representing the state in this case, so what are we left with?” Mueller said after the hearing.
His client, Henning, is accused of stealing a car while using a weapon near the Central West End in December 2018.
Henning was also later charged with murdering Parkway West High School student Carieal Doss in April 2020. That case was thrown out because the St. Louis Circuit Attorney’s Office mishandled evidence.
FOX 2 spoke to Doss’s mother about it earlier this month.
“It’s not a mistake. At this point, this is pure negligence,” she said. Adding, “I don’t know if it got lost; I don’t know if they didn’t feel it was important, but they never turned it over during the time,” Doss’s mother said.
“The same discovery violations that affected the murder investigation are affecting this one,” Mueller said Thursday.
FOX 2 obtained a court document from July 2019 that indicates “DNA pending.” It was the prosecutor’s argument asking the judge for a delay four years ago.
“We don’t know where that DNA evidence is if it’s ever been tested. It certainly has never been disclosed,” Mueller said.
The judge declined to throw out the current robbery case for now, giving the Circuit Attorney’s Office another week to get someone in the courtroom to argue against a dismissal. The judge did agree to let the defendant out of jail on an ankle monitor in the meantime.
Mueller shook his head about the ‘no show,’ adding, “The reality is, Chris, no one’s ever entered on this case.”
Mueller was recently motivated to run in the upcoming election for Circuit Attorney. He’s also one of the 18 possible choices to be appointed as the top prosecutor by the governor.
“I’m still in the running because I’m the only person who’s filed with the Missouri Ethics Commission to run for this office,” Mueller said.
“I look forward to working with whoever the appointment is, on either the defense side or whenever they want me to try to turn this city around,” he said.
No one from the Circuit Attorney’s Office would give FOX 2 any further comment about its failure to show up in court. We will be in the courtroom next week to see what happens in this high-profile case.