One of the early local-level prosecutors bankrolled by liberal mega-donor George Soros since 2016 is facing questions after her office failed to show up for court hearings and turn over evidence in a murder case.
St. Louis Circuit Attorney Kimberly Gardner's office initially told KSDK that suspect Brandon Antione Campbell was in custody, with charges refiled against him after a court order last week dismissing his case.
The office backtracked Tuesday night, admitting Campbell, who is black and allegedly killed another black male, was still at large.
The suspect fled Missouri when he was initially charged with the murder in February of his "lifelong friend" Ray Moore, a father of three. U.S. marshals tracked him to Texas. Moore's family said they learned from the news station, not Gardner's office, that Campbell was released Friday from jail.
That was just one of three Gardner murder cases dismissed in one week, according to the St. Louis Post Dispatch. As with Campbell, prosecutors quickly refiled charges against one suspect but not the other, both of whose murder trials were set to begin this week.
Gardner's office turned over only partial partial evidence to Campbell's public defender, then stopped attending hearings or providing the full evidence starting in April, according to the dismissal order.
The initial prosecutor stopped working for Gardner, and another was quickly added only after the defense asked the judge for sanctions against Gardner's office for failure to turn over evidence.
The new prosecutor, however, was already on maternity leave and not expected to participate in the case for three months.
Gardner's prosecutors missed every hearing from May 27 through July 12, when the judge demanded a reason why he shouldn't dismiss the case. Campbell's attorney never heard back from Gardner's office on her May 28 request to connect with the prosecutor who took over for the one on maternity leave.
"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," the judge wrote.
Gardner told KSDK that her office had reviewed "our internal policies and procedures regarding Family Medical Leave" and had determined "corrective measures are needed to further prevent any future repeat occurrence of the incident in question."
Also unexplained: why felony cases filed in St. Louis city's circuit court have a 33% dismissal rate, more than twice the rate in St. Louis County and Jefferson County. According to KSDK, historical data from that circuit show the dismissal rate has doubled since Gardner took office.
Gardner's office didn't immediately respond to a request from Just the News to explain how they missed every hearing after Campbell's public defender asked for the full evidence; why the reassigned case went to a prosecutor on maternity leave; whether it's suffering from a shortage of prosecutors; and why its dismissal rate has doubled since Gardner took office.