Even though St. Louis Circuit Attorney Kim Gardner was ousted as the prosecutor overseeing the case against Mark and Patricia McCloskey last year, the couple still faces charges of unlawful use of a weapon and tampering with evidence. Now, a former U.S. Attorney has been appointed as a special prosecutor to oversee the case, and he’s promising to take a new look at all of the evidence in question.
[Richard] Callahan said Wednesday from his Jefferson City home that he’s no stranger to prosecuting politically charged cases and will approach this one no differently. He said he stepped down last week from his post as a senior judge in Cole County to accept the special appointment.
“I am going to approach it the same way I’ve done anything in the last 49 years — start with a blank slate, follow the evidence and see where it takes me,” said Callahan, who is 73.
It’s good that Callahan says he’ll approach the case with an open mind, because there’s been a great deal of criticism leveled against Gardner for her decision to prosecute the couple to begin with. The McCloskeys were on their own property when hundreds of protesters entered their private community and marched towards the home of St. Louis Mayor Lyda Krewson last June.
Nine individuals were initially charged with misdemeanor trespassing violations , but attorneys for the city dropped the cases last fall after trustees for the private Portland Place neighborhood said they didn’t want to pursue prosecution. Joel Schwartz, the McCloskeys’ attorney, said at the time that the city’s decision wouldn’t impact his clients’ defense, which is centered around the state’s Castle Doctrine.
Missouri’s Castle Doctrine law allows people to use deadly force to defend their property, and that’s what the McCloskeys were doing, he said.
“It’s is abundantly clear the crime of trespassing was committed in this case, making the McCloskeys actions perfectly legal,” he said. “Just because the city counselor decided not to charge them changes nothing.”
I’m curious to see if Callahan proceeds with the case after reviewing all of the evidence, or if he drops all of the charges against the McCloskeys. I’m also really looking forward to hopefully learning more about the evidence tampering charge that Patricia McCloskey faces, given that it was Kim Gardner’s own office that fiddled with the firearm and restored it to working condition. The McCloskeys maintain that the gun had been disabled before it was used as a piece of evidence in a trial that they were involved in, and that they never fixed the gun so it could fire again.
I’ve thought the case against the McCloskeys was a weak one from the start, but we’ll have to wait to see what the special prosecutor concludes. Given the fact that Gov. Mike Parson has already said that he’ll pardon the couple if they are convicted, Callahan could save tax payers a lot money and the McCloskeys a lot of grief if he were to conclude that the original charges filed by Kim Gardner weren’t justified.
Of course in doing so Callahan would kick off a whole new controversy, and Gardner would almost certainly complain that, while she was kicked off the case because she used the McCloskeys’ arrest as a fundraising tool, any decision to drop the charges against the pair would be just as political in nature. Of course, she’ll be able to do that anyway if the couple were convicted and Parson does end up issuing a pardon.
The Left will complain about the McCloskeys no matter how this case ends up, because there’s zero chance that they’ll actually do any time or end up with a criminal record. Callahan could drop the charges, the McCloskeys could win their case at trial, or they could get a gubernatorial pardon. Given the fact that none of the trespassers are facing any charges either, the quickest route to justice, in my opinion, would be for the new special prosecutor to conclude that the McCloskeys shouldn’t be prosecuted at all.