ST. LOUIS – St. Louis District Attorney’s Office Kim Gardner has “essentially abandoned its duty to prosecute those it accuses of crimes.”
That’s according to St. Louis Circuit Judge Jason Sengheiser, who dismissed a murder case on Friday after Gardner’s prosecutors failed to appear at multiple hearings on the case.
Brandon Campbell is charged with the shooting death of Randy Moore on April 9, 2020.
St. Louis Police say I-Team murder suspect Campbell is now free, despite a statement from Gardner’s office saying he has re-laid the charges and is in custody .
In that statement, Gardner wrote: “Please be assured that as a St. Louis City Attorney, I am accountable to the public for the actions of the office and remain committed to the highest possible accountability standards and practices. . at all levels of this office, in particular the public safety of the residents of the City of St. Louis. Accordingly, the individual in this case is (sic) on guard. “
Gardner’s office released a revised statement around 7 p.m. Tuesday, confirming Campbell is still at large and the office has kept Moore’s family informed of the case. The St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department issued a press release Wednesday morning asking for the public’s assistance in locating Campbell.
Family members said they only heard about the case from homicide detectives.
Moore’s sisters say Gardner’s inaction in their brother’s case is inexcusable, and they have learned the suspect was free from the I-Team even though state law requires prosecutors to hold the families of the victims informed of the progress of the case of their relatives.
“Why was it so hard to pick up the phone to let us know what was going on?” Asked Cierra Moore, Randy Moore’s older sister.
Our investigation also found that the number of cases closed since Gardner took office just five years ago has doubled.
And the laying of new charges in this case offers little comfort to Brandy Veasley, another of Randy Moore’s sisters.
“Kim Gardner is a bad excuse for a prosecutor,” she said. “It is not fair.
“I know she’s trying to give black people a chance, but on a murder?” No no.”
“He is a member of the family”
Randy Moore, 30, was the father of three young children, twins and a baby girl.
He was one of 10 siblings; five boys and five girls.
He had just been released from prison two months before his death, reconnecting with his children and nieces while trying to get his life back on track, his sisters said.
“He’s a family person, he loves his children very much, he loves his whole family very much and he loves the sisters,” said Cierra Moore.
The night he was killed, prosecutors say Brandon Campbell shot Moore in the 3700 block of Aldine Avenue on April 9, 2020.
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Her family say the two were longtime friends in an argument over a girl.
“It was devastating because I was like ‘We grew up together, he would come over to our house, sit on our porch, eat our food,” you know, just a childhood friend, ”Veasley said. “It was devastating to find out it was him.”
The family also learned more about Campbell’s background when he was charged with the murder of their brother in February.
It includes six felony convictions.
And, after prosecutors charged him with Moore’s murder, he fled the area.
The US Marshals found him in Texas and arrested him.
Campbell’s public defender has asked Gardner’s office for evidence against Campbell on several occasions, according to the judge’s dismissal order.
In April, one of Gardner’s prosecutors gave the public defender’s office some of the evidence before he stopped working for Gardner, according to the order.
On May 17, Campbell’s public defender filed another petition asking Gardner’s office for evidence and asking the judge to sanction prosecutors if it was not provided.
On the same day, another deputy prosecutor was assigned to the case after she had already started maternity leave and was not due to respond to anything for about three months, according to the judge’s order. .
“In the court’s view, someone from the circuit prosecutor’s office should be assigned while on leave to deal with issues like those present here,” the judge wrote. “Otherwise, she’s not really on leave.
On May 27, no one from the prosecutor’s office showed up for a hearing.
Judge Sengheiser then issued an order on June 4 for Gardner’s office to appear for a hearing on June 15.
Again, no one from the prosecutor’s office appeared.
The judge then upheld the defense motion asking prosecutors to produce all evidence in the case, but prosecutors failed to comply with the order.
On June 30, public defenders filed a motion to dismiss for “willful violations of the rules of discovery.”
Sengheiser ordered prosecutors to justify the reasons why the case should not be closed on July 6, setting it for a July 12 hearing.
The judge asked a deputy to deliver a copy of this order directly to Gardner’s office.
Campbell’s lawyers attended the hearing.
Gardner’s office didn’t.
Campbell’s attorney showed the court a copy of an email she sent Gardner directly on May 28, asking Gardner who she should contact about the case since the prosecutor on the case was. on maternity leave.
She never got an answer.
“The Court does not take this step without serious consideration of the implications it may have for public safety. Although presumed innocent, the accused has been charged with the most serious of crimes … In a case like this where the circuit prosecutor’s office has essentially abandoned its duty to prosecute those he accuses of crimes, the court must apply the law impartially and any resulting threat to public safety is the responsibility of the circuit prosecutor’s office, ”the judge wrote.
In his statement to the I-Team on Tuesday, Gardner wrote: “After reviewing our internal policies and procedures regarding family medical leave, we have determined that corrective action is needed to further prevent any future recurrence of the incident by question.”
Held in the dark
State law requires the families of victims to be informed of the progress of their loved ones’ case.
St. Louis Police told 5 On Your Side that Campbell was released from jail on Friday, a detail Moore’s sisters said they learned from the I-Team.
Moore’s sisters said they also learned that the murder charges had been filed against Campbell by the I-Team.
It gives them little comfort as it starts the process all over again, “all over again,” Veasley said.
“It’s stressful because he can get out of town. He can hide, you all have to find him, it’s not like he’s going to surrender, ”she said.
The I-Team also found that the number of cases that were dismissed during Gardner’s tenure is on the rise and is almost double the rate of rejection in surrounding jurisdictions.
The National Center for State Courts shows that 33% of criminal cases filed in the city of St. Louis circuit court are dismissed.
In St. Louis County, 15% of cases are dismissed. In Jefferson County, it’s 14%. Seventeen percent of cases in St. Charles County are dismissed.
Historical data from the 22nd Judicial Circuit shows the dismissal rate has doubled since Gardner took office just five years ago.
Gardner successfully ran on a platform for reform, pledging to change the justice system and make it fairer for blacks who are statistically the most affected by crime.
St. Louis Mayor Tishaura Jones backed Gardner’s efforts and issued a statement about the matter, which reads: “Mayor Jones’ administration works with many autonomous departments and divisions throughout the city of St. Louis. The administration is pleased to see that charges are being counter-filed in this case, and the administration will continue to pursue proactive policies that address the root causes of crime. “
But for Cierra Moore, the number of layoffs piling up in Gardner’s office including that of her brother leaves her with a question:
“Why aren’t they doing their job? ” she asked.
Anyone with information on Campbell’s whereabouts is urged to call the Homicide Office directly at 314-444-5371. Or, anyone with information who wishes to remain anonymous and possibly receive a reward for their information should contact CrimeStoppers at 866-371-TIPS (8477).
5 Casey Nolen of On Your Side contributed to this report.