ST. LOUIS–In the hours since Missouri Governor Mike Parson’s office revealed that it had issued pardons to Mark and Patricia McCloskey, Democrats and activists have questioned why the Governor did not issue pardons in cases involving Kevin Strickland, convicted in a Kansas City triple murder in 1978 but who prosecutors and others now believe is innocent, or the case of Lamar Johnson, who has served 26 years in prison for a murder in St. Louis that two other people now say they committed.
Governor Parson has said since last summer that he was willing to pardon the McCloskeys, who waved guns at demonstrators in front of their Central West End home and later agreed to a plea deal to misdemeanor charges. He said this summer that he didn’t see the case of Strickland as a priority.
“A year and a few miniscule charges later and Governor Parson has now pardoned the McCloskeys. There are two innocent men sitting in jail, Kevin Strickland and Lamar Johnson, who deserve to be pardoned,” community organizer Ohun Ashe said in a statement. “It is shameful to see our government uplift people who represent the vitriol and violence that has made American discourse so toxic, while working to silence the innocent and peaceful pleading for true justice.”
Missouri U. S. Senator Josh Hawley, a former Attorney General for Missouri who opposed one of Strickland’s attempts at appellate court relief during his tenure, said Thursday he couldn’t comment on the Governor’s decision-making process regarding the Strickland or Johnson cases, but that he supported the move to pardon the McCloskeys.
“I think that the so-called prosecution of them’s outrageous. I think it was clearly trumped up. There are even allegations of evidence tampering by the prosecution in what unfortunately has become a pattern for that prosecutor there in that office so that makes a lot of sense to me,” Hawley told FOX2.
The St.Louis Circuit Attorney’s office was later disqualified from prosecuting the case, when a judge ruled that Kim Gardner had used the case to help raise money for her re-election campaign.
Gardner did not comment on the news of the pardons Tuesday. A spokesperson tells FOX2 that since the case was not prosecuted by the Circuit Attorney’s office, she did not anticipate any reaction.