The St. Louis prosecutor spearheading the case against Mark McCloskey, one half of the husband-and-wife team who menaced Black Lives Matter protesters with weapons, has been removed from the case. Circuit Judge Thomas Clark II on Thursday dismissed Circuit Attorney Kim Gardner and her entire staff, saying campaign fundraising emails she sent to constituents that alluded to Mark and Patricia McCloskey’s case, “raise the appearance of impropriety and jeopardize the defendant’s right to a fair trial,” The Associated Press reported. The ruling means Gardner can no longer oversee McCloskey’s prosecution. Instead, a special prosecutor will have to be selected to take over. The decision does not apply to McCloskey’s wife, Patricia, who is scheduled to appear before a different judge on Jan. 15, 2021.The couple’s defense attorneys filed the motion to disqualify Gardner in July, arguing it was an unprecedented move for a prosecutor to discuss a case in campaign materials, NBC affiliate KSDK reported. Court documents note the materials were sent out as early as three days before Gardner had filed any criminal charges against his clients. Attorney Joel Schwartz, wrote, “The July 17th email drew a direct line from the incident, which had not yet resulted in criminal charges, to Ms. Gardner’s political antagonists and from there to a call for donations to further her re-election efforts.” The McCloskeys, who are white, became a polarizing couple over the summer, when they used brandished firearms at a crowd of marching protesters; Mark McCloskey waved around an AR-15 rifle while Patricia kept her finger on the trigger of a handgun as a few hundred protesters marched toward the home of St. Louis Mayor Lyda Krewson.
The couple insist they believed the protesters, who they say had torn down a fence to enter the gated community, would have burned down their mansion if the two hadn’t “stood their ground.” [full article]