UPDATED at 2:30 p.m. Monday with statement from Circuit Attorney Kimberly M. Gardner.
ST. LOUIS — A circuit judge dismissed a 2020 murder case last week and said the Circuit Attorney’s Office “abandoned its duty” after St. Louis prosecutors failed three times to show for court hearings or respond to a court order to produce evidence.
Circuit Judge Jason Sengheiser on Wednesday dismissed first-degree murder, armed criminal action and unlawful gun possession charges against Brandon Campbell, 30, after no one from the Circuit Attorney’s Office showed up for scheduled hearings in May, June and July.
“The court does not take this action without significant consideration for the implications it may have for public safety,” Sengheiser wrote in his order. “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.”
Sengheiser continued, “The Circuit Attorney’s Office is ultimately the party responsible for protecting public safety by charging and then prosecuting those it believes commit crimes. 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.”
A spokeswoman for Kimberly M. Gardner provided a statement Monday saying "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. The suggestion, however, that there have been additional instances that have occurred like the one in question have not been substantiated."
Gardner's statement continued, "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."
Police said Monday that Campbell was still at large.
Campbell was charged in December with fatally shooting 30-year-old Randy Moore on April 9, 2020, in the 3700 block of Aldine Avenue. Moore, who lived in the 11000 block of Bellefontaine Road in north St. Louis County, was pronounced dead at a hospital. Charges said surveillance video showed Campbell arrive in a Chrysler 300 and have an argument with Moore before shooting Moore as Moore walked away.
The judge said Campbell’s public defender filed a motion on May 17 to compel the Circuit Attorney’s Office to produce evidence in the case. At that time, the prosecutor who had Campbell’s case had begun maternity leave, and no one else from the Circuit Attorney’s Office had been assigned to it.
Campbell’s lawyer moved to dismiss the case June 30 “for willful violations of the rules of discovery.” A hearing was scheduled for Monday, but again no prosecutor showed despite the court’s confirming that the Circuit Attorney’s Office received notice of the hearing six days earlier.
Campbell is represented by an assistant public defender, who emailed Circuit Attorney Kimberly M. Gardner directly May 28 asking whom to contact about Campbell’s case.
Campbell’s lawyer said Gardner never replied.
Matthew Mahaffey, chief public defender in St. Louis, said the way the Circuit Attorney’s Office has handled Campbell’s case “encapsulates a lot of the discovery issues we’re seeing and the challenges we’re seeing in getting cases to proceed with the full amount of information that our clients are deserving of. We’re not getting what we need from the Circuit Attorney’s Office.”
On Thursday, a day after Sengheiser dismissed Campbell’s case, a prosecutor with the Circuit Attorney’s Office refiled charges. A judge ordered Campbell held without bail on the newly filed charges.