ST. LOUIS – On the heels of Kim Gardner’s resignation announcement, St. Louis prosecutors are unsure who can possibly handle a big murder case set for this month. It’s a case that’s already five years old.

The murder victim’s friend, Daniel Howard, said outside Friday, “Look at the predicament it’s putting the judge in.”

Howard has been here through delays and prosecutor no-shows. He said, “Year after year, month after month.”

His friend Gregory Stevens was stabbed to death in March 2018. Defendant Charl Howard says he’s innocent. He’s also frustrated by the delays.

The trial is set for May 16th. The case is assigned to a prosecutor who no longer works for the Circuit Attorney’s Office.

It’s far from the only crisis, as our Fox Files review of the most urgent cases found 10 trials in the next two weeks with no prosecutor.

Defense attorney Chris Faerber said, “Attorneys aren’t going to magically appear out of thin air.” Faerber used to work for Kim Gardner. Gardner announced her resignation Thursday, but said it won’t be effective until June 1.

Faerber added, “Certainly, while she’s still there – no attorneys that have left would ever come back with her in office – attorneys who know what goes on in that office. So this is going to be an ongoing problem until June 2.”

We saw first-hand the problem Friday morning in a pre-trail hearing regarding Charl Howard’s murder case. Chris Desilets is assigned, but he recently resigned from his position. On Friday, another prosecutor, Andrew Russek walked into the courtroom saying, “I thought I’d show up in case no one appeared.” He said he happened to notice the case on the docket and that it might not be covered.

Judge Bryan Hettenbach asked, “So, you’re not here on behalf of the State?”

Prosecutor Russek answered, “No, give me 15 minutes to try to get someone over here.”

Supervisor Rob Huq then showed up to say he has another trial that prohibits him from handling the case, adding that the state is struggling to find a witness who prosecutors still need to depose.

The judge expressed frustration, saying, “The case is five years old, we’ve had dozens of delays and the state has already dismissed the case and refiled it.”

Victim’s friend Daniel Howard commented after court, “We just need this process to be fixed.”

The Circuit Attorney’s Office appears to have just one more chance to find a key witness and to show it can have a prosecutor available to cover a trial. That last chance will be heard in court next Thursday, at which point the judge could have no other choice but to throw out the case.