St. Louis couple charged on weapons and evidence tampering in viral protest incident
A grand jury in St. Louis has indicted the homeowners shown in a viral video confronting protesters in July who trespassed on their property on one count each of unlawful use of a weapon and evidence tampering.
“The indictments were filed under seal Tuesday. St. Louis Circuit Clerk Thomas Kloeppinger said a judge ordered the indictments suppressed but Kloeppinger didn’t know the reason,” says the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.
“The grand jury added a count of evidence tampering after the Circuit Attorney’s Office in July charged the McCloskeys each with one count of unlawful use of a weapon.”
Indictments have a fairly low legal standard, and are generally granted if a prosecuting attorney asks for one.
The lawyer for defendants Mark and Patricia McCloskey says that he’s not surprised by the indictments and will be requesting a transcript of the grand jury testimony to see what the prosecutor presented to get the indictments, according to the Post-Dispatch.
“I’ll certainly be interested in what was presented to the grand jury,” said McCloskey attorney Joel Schwartz.
“Once all the facts are out, it will be clear the McCloskeys committed no crime whatsoever,” Schwartz said according to local KMOV4. “Frankly because the grand jury is not an adversarial process and defense counsel are not allowed in there and I have no idea what was stated to the grand jury and what law was given to the grand jury.”
The couple was dining in their backyard in St. Louis in July when a group of Black Lives Matter protesters either broke down or passed through a private gate where they confronted the couple according to the McCloskeys, who noted the protesters were not charged with trespassing.
“They broke down our gate, they trespassed on our property. Not a single one of those people are now charged with anything,” Mark McCloskey said. “We’re charged with felonies that could cost us four years of our lives and our law license.”
He said they are being targeted by “leftists” and “democrats” because they defended their home from “death threats and threats of rape and threats of arson” by the protesters, but he also noted that they never fired at the protesters.
“What you are witnessing here is just an opportunity for the government, the leftist, democrat government of the City of St. Louis to persecute us for doing no more than exercising our Second Amendment rights,” McCloskey said.
Previously, Schwartz has charged that one of the guns was inoperable at the time of the confrontation but that crime lab technicians “then reassembled the gun,” says the Washington Examiner.
“It’s disheartening to learn that a law enforcement agency altered evidence in order to prosecute an innocent member of the community,” Joel Schwartz, the McCloskeys’ attorney, told KSDK of St. Louis.
The Gov. of Missouri, Mike Parson (R), has promised to pardon the couple if convicted.
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