JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. – Governor Mike Parson is expanding the Missouri legislature’s session on violent crime to focus on the growing backlog of murder cases in St. Louis.
A proposal would have Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt’s office take on some of the murder cases that have not yet been prosecuted. His office would not be allowed to supervise or replace the St. Louis Circuit Attorney under the proposal. However, it would still allow Kim Gardner’s office to prosecute murders.
Gov. Parson’s office says that fewer charges have been filed during Kim Gardner’s time as St. Louis Circuit Attorney despite the rise in murders. Police say that only 33 homicide cases have been charged so far this year. In 2019, 40 cases were charged out of 194 total murders, and 61 cases were charged out of 186 murders in 2018.
“Homicide rates continue to escalate in Missouri, especially in our urban areas. Innocent lives are being lost, futures are cut short, and families are hurting. This is unacceptable, and we must hold violent criminals accountable,” Governor Parson writes in a statement. “This proposal is not about taking away authority. It is about fighting violent crime, achieving justice for victims, and making our communities safer.”
“St. Louis voters overwhelmingly re-elected St. Louis Circuit Attorney Kim Gardner just last week. By now trying to strip her of the prosecutorial discretion and authority enjoyed by every other prosecutor in the state, the governor attacks democracy itself. Lawmakers must not become co-conspirators in the governor’s politically motivated abuse of power.”House Minority Leader Crystal Quade – D-Springfield
Gov. Parson was at the announcement that 50 federal agents are being sent to St. Louis to help stop violent crime last week. They part of Operation LeGend. The announcement was led by U.S. Attorney Jeff Jensen and many local leaders including St. Louis Mayor Lyda Krewson, Chief of Police John Hayden, 22nd Circuit Judge Rex Burleson, and others were there to support the effort. St. Louis Circuit Attorney Kim Gardner was not.
U.S. Attorney Jeff Jensen was asked why she was not there. He said that she was, “out of town” and the federal agents are not a response to Garder’s re-election. He expects to refer non-federal cases to Gardner’s office.
Gardner issued a statement after the announcement saying she supports the federal agents in St. Louis to make the city a safer place.
Missouri’s Governor and the St. Louis Circuit Attorney have been in the national spotlight over the handling of a protest in the Central West End. Gov. Parson told a radio host in July that he would pardon a St. Louis couple if they are charged for brandishing guns during a protest outside their mansion.
Democratic Circuit Attorney Kim Gardner has charged Mark and Patricia McCloskey for an incident on June 28. Protesters walked onto the private street where the McCloskeys live. The couple came out with guns.
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