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ST. LOUIS – St. Louis Circuit Attorney Kim Gardner is under fire after a judge drops murder charges against an accused killer. 

The unusual move came after the prosecutor from Gardner’s office, who was assigned the case, didn’t show up to court. Now the chairman of the St. Louis Aldermanic Public Safety committee wants to call Gardner in front of his committee to explain the incident. 

Judge Jason Sengheiser wrote a scathing order dropping the murder charges. The accused killer, Brandon Campbell, was released from jail and is still at large. 

The judge noted in his order that the prosecutor who was assigned to the case was on maternity leave for three months and said the office hadn’t replaced her.

The judge sharply criticized Gardner’s office for the mix up saying, “The Circuit Attorney’s Office has essentially abandoned its duty to prosecute those it charges with crimes.”

A spokeswoman for Kim Gardner admitted a big mistake was made saying in a statement: “Upon review of our internal policies and procedures regarding Family Medical Leave, we have determined that corrective measures are needed to further prevent any future repeat occurrence of the incident in question.”

The chairman of the Aldermanic Public Safety Committee, Joe Vacarro, calls the incident “shocking,” saying there is no excuse for not having a lawyer show up.

He says it’s a clear case of bad management by Kim Gardner. But, former prosecutor Jerryl Christmas, who worked for Gardner’s predecessor, thinks otherwise.

He’s a spokesman for the organization representing Black attorneys called the Mound City Bar Association. 

Christmas says the judge didn’t have to release the accused killer back on the streets, but instead could have just continued the case. 

“We have individuals who are more concerned about embarrassing the prosecutor than they are about having an effective system,” Christmas said.