ST. LOUIS COUNTY, Mo. – A St. Louis County judge is demanding answers about an alleged failure to release evidence regarding July’s summer camp drowning.
FOX 2 was the only media in the courtroom Monday when St. Louis County lawyers argued why they were still holding onto evidence 110 days later.
Lawyers for the family of 6-year-old T.J. Mister originally asked for a motion to compel hearing that was scheduled for last Thursday. St. Louis County lawyers did not show up, telling the court they’d forgotten about it. The county wanted to reschedule for December, but Judge Richard Stewart demanded they come back to answer this week.
St. Louis County counselors told the judge they were not purposely withholding evidence from the July 20 drowning at the Kennedy Recreation Center. Mister was in his first week of summer camp. He drowned at a program that is unregulated by Missouri’s Office of Child Care Compliance because of a loophole that exists for summer camps.
St. Louis County counselors said in court that the case remains an active criminal investigation, and they do not want to interfere with it.
“It’s not like we haven’t turned over everything. We have produced 400 pages of documents,” said one of the lawyers.
“300 pages were from one manual!” said Todd Nissenholtz, the plaintiff’s lawyer. “We’ve received the bare minimum. We are aware of many other documents and videos that exist, and we have none of it.”
Stewart told county counselors to get things moving while agreeing to allow evidence to be kept under seal until he can review it, so there is no risk of interfering with the police investigation. A criminal investigation remains open nearly four months after the tragedy.
The judge gave the county counselors five days to turn over the complete video of the drowning. He set another hearing for next month to check in on the progress of turning over evidence.