ST. LOUIS – Missouri Governor Mike Parson flew to St. Louis for a one-hour meeting with prosecutors in the circuit attorney’s office in the aftermath of Kim Gardner’s resignation.

“I wanted to make sure to personally get this done, that they knew exactly why I was doing, what I was doing, and what the process was going to be, and to be able to tell how we were going to move forward,” Parson said.

Governor Parson said this required a face-to-face meeting, since he’ll be responsible for appointing Gardner’s successor.

“I don’t think there’s any question, there’s been a lot of tension with everything that’s been going on for quite some time,” he said. “But I think they are looking for direction, too. I think they’re excited about the day when they get a new prosecutor appointed, so they get some normalcy.”

Gardner abruptly left office Tuesday with a handwritten note to the presiding judge, asking for St. Louis County Prosecutor Wesley Bell to take the reins until Gardner’s original June 1 resignation date.

(Courtesy St. Louis Circuit Court)

But it was not Gardner’s call. Parson appointed his general counsel, Evan Rodriguez, to take over until the governor makes his pick.

“Yes, I made a quick trip up here just to do this, and then the next process, I go back for the rest of the lengthy day interviewing candidates and, hopefully, we’ll be able to announce that person by the end of the week,” he said.

The public defender’s office is also hopeful for positive change.

“Accessibility is our biggest hope. No one wants to be involved in the criminal legal system, whether they’re relatives of our clients, our clients, or people that are involved with the prosecutor’s office,” District Defender Matthew Mahaffey said.

Mahaffey explained past difficulties in just getting evidence turned over.

“If the law’s not being followed by those charging, then it’s very hard for us to fight that in a meaningful and efficient manner,” he said. “So, I’m optimistic that with a new administration, we might be able to do that in a quicker manner for our clients.”

The evidence issue raised its head again Wednesday at a 1 p.m. hearing on a double murder case – State v. Sturgeon Stewart. The prosecutor told a judge he was forced to dismiss the case because the circuit attorney’s office could not find key DNA and surveillance video evidence.