A judge has set a murder suspect free after St. Louis County prosecutors failed to show up to court on three separate occasions, though the same department found the time to go after an area couple who defended their property with firearms after a Black Lives Matter mob broke into their gated community last summer.
Last week, Circuit Judge Jason Sengheiser dismissed charges of first-degree murder, armed criminal action, and unlawful gun possession against Brandon Campbell, 30, when prosecutors from the Circuit Attorney’s Office did not attend hearings for the case in May, June, and July, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported.
“The court does not take this action without significant consideration for the implications it may have for public safety,” Sengheiser wrote in kicking the case.
“Although presumed innocent, (Campbell) has been charged with the most serious of crimes. While the court has a role to play in protecting public safety, that role must be balanced with adherence to the law and the protection of the rights of the defendant,” the judge continued.
Sengheiser then took aim at Kim Gardner’s office.
“The Circuit Attorney’s Office is ultimately the party responsible for protecting public safety by charging and then prosecuting those it believes commit crimes,” he wrote.
“In a case like this where the Circuit Attorney’s office has essentially abandoned its duty to prosecute those it charges with crimes, the court must impartially enforce the law and any resultant threat to public safety is the responsibility of the Circuit Attorney’s Office.”
Gardner’s office issued a statement as well on Monday appearing to blame the abandonment of the case on “family medical leave.”
“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,” Gardner’s statement said.
“The suggestion, however, that there have been additional instances that have occurred like the one in question have not been substantiated.”
Continuing, Gardner noted, “Be assured that as the Circuit Attorney of the City of St. Louis, I am accountable to the public for the actions of the office and remain committed as ever to upholding the highest possible standards and practices of accountability at all levels of this office, particularly the public safety of the residents of the city of St. Louis. As a result, the individual in this case is (in) custody.”
St. Louis police, however, told the paper that Campbell remained at large as of publication time.
On April 9, 2020, Campbell was charged in the shooting death of Randy Moore, 30. Charges stemmed from surveillance video allegedly showing Campbell pulling up in a Chrysler 300 vehicle and arguing with Moore before pulling a gun and shooting him as he walked away.
Sengheiser said that a public defender filed a motion on May 17 on behalf of Campbell to force Gardner’s office to produce evidence in the case that led to the murder charge. At the time, the prosecutor assigned to the case began maternity leave and the Circuit Attorney’s office failed to assign the case to someone else.
After two missed court dates, Campbell’s attorney moved to dismiss the case June 30 “for willful violations of the rules of discovery.”
Campbell was represented by an assistant public defender who emailed Gardner in late May asking whom to contact regarding the case but never received a reply.
Meanwhile, Gardner’s office went full-bore for Mark and Patricia McCloskey, two St. Louis lawyers who defended their home with firearms as a BLM mob broke into their locked, gated community last year at the height of protests following the George Floyd murder in Minneapolis.
Gardner and her staff, however, were tossed off of Mark McCloskey’s case over allegations of “professional misconduct.”
She also faces legal discipline amid additional allegations of professional misconduct in a case involving former GOP Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens, who is now running for the U.S. Senate to replace retiring GOP Sen. Roy Blunt.