The George Soros-bankrolled prosecutor in St. Louis who’s facing an effort by Missouri’s attorney general to compel her to resign for allegedly neglecting her duties is now being hit with new complaints of negligence and potential misconduct in doing her job.
St. Louis Circuit Attorney Kimberly Gardner has a history riddled with allegations of misconduct and mishandled cases in her current job, facing admonishment for bungled prosecutions and what critics have deemed soft-on-crime policies.
Such outcry continued into this past week, with Gardner’s office being hit with a wave of bad headlines and criticism that won’t help the embattled prosecutor, who’s already in a legal fight to hold onto her position.
Earlier this week, a St. Louis judge sanctioned Gardner’s office for withholding evidence in a double homicide case and allowing the suspect out on bond.
In a Jan. 13, 2020 file photo, St. Louis Circuit Attorney Kim Gardner speaks in St. Louis. (AP Photo/Jim Salter)
Alex Heflin, 23, had been held without bond in jail since January, initially charged with two counts of second-degree murder and armed criminal action, according to local NBC affiliate KSDK. However, those charges have been reduced to involuntary and voluntary manslaughter. Heflin was supposed to go to trial on April 17, but the trial has now been postponed until June 12, with a pretrial conference scheduled for May 17.
This week, Judge Theresa Counts Burke ruled in favor of Heflin’s attorneys, who filed a motion accusing one of Gardner’s assistant circuit attorneys of violating discovery rules that required prosecutors to turn over evidence, including DNA reports and a recording of a 911 call.
“The court finds that there have been repeated delays by the state in obtaining discovery and providing it to the defense,” Burke wrote. “There has been a lack of diligence on the part of the state in following up and providing discovery to the defendant in a timely fashion. As a result of the state’s actions and lack of diligence, the court grants defendant’s second motion for sanctions.”
The Circuit Attorney’s Office provided Fox News Digital with a statement, saying it’s working diligently to pursue justice in the case.
“In this case as in every case, the Circuit Attorney’s Office works together with the police to bring justice on behalf of the people of the City of St. Louis, victims and their families,” a spokesperson said. “The CAO is dedicated to doing everything in its power to hold the defendant accountable. The CAO has spoken to the family and will continue to work to ensure justice is served.
Janae Edmondson was in a crosswalk with her parents on her way home from a volleyball tournament when police allege Daniel Riley sped through a yield sign, striking her and another car. (Town of Smyrna, St. Louis Police Department)
“In every case, the Circuit Attorney’s Office is dedicated to ensuring that the office carries out its duty to prosecute criminal cases in a manner that seeks justice on behalf of the residents of the City of St. Louis,” the spokesperson added.
In a separate case, however, Gardner’s office is facing scrutiny for doing exactly the opposite.
On Wednesday, St. Louis prosecutors dismissed and refiled charges against two men accused of killing a father and his 7-year-old daughter, likely pushing back the trial by months. According to an investigation by local CBS affiliate KMOV, the reason for the dismissal and refiling is that “the prosecutors weren’t ready for trial,” which was set to take place in a matter of days.
In July, prosecutors did the same thing in the case, days before the alleged killers were set to stand trial then, delaying the prosecution and angering both the victims’ families who want justice and the defense attorneys who want their clients to have their day in court.
Dismissing and refiling cases has become increasingly common as Gardner’s understaffed office, which has lost several lawyers in recent years, has struggled to prepare for trials. Last year alone, prosecutors dismissed and refiled at least a dozen murder cases, according to a St. Louis Post-Dispatch analysis.
Kimberly Gardner (David Carson/St. Louis Post-Dispatch/Tribune News Service via Getty Images | AP Photo/Jim Salter)
The effect of the high turnover in Gardner’s office has been “a state of dysfunction, low morale and dearth of legal wisdom necessary to safeguard the public from potentially dangerous criminals,” the Post-Dispatch previously reported.
On Thursday, Gardner’s office seemed to blame police for having to dismiss and refile the double murder case.
“In this case, the CAO was not provided evidence in a timely manner due to acknowledged staffing challenges at the police department,” Gardner spokeswoman Allison Hawk said in a statement.
The St. Louis Police Officers’ Association responded by lambasting Gardner’s office for trying to shift the blame.
“Police officers shouldn’t be made scapegoats for an overworked, backlogged and mismanaged Circuit Attorney’s Office,” the union said in a statement.
St. Louis Circuit Attorney Kim Gardner, right, and Ronald Sullivan, a Harvard law professor, arrive at the Civil Courts building May 14, 2018. (Christian Gooden/St. Louis Post-Dispatch/Tribune News Service via Getty Images)
Gardner’s office provided to KMOV an identical statement on this case to the one that it provided Fox News Digital on the Heflin case.
On Friday, meanwhile, the attorney for a man accused of striking teenage volleyball player Janae Edmonson with his car and causing her to lose her legs entered a not guilty plea on behalf of his client, but a judge had to print a copy of the indictment for him in court. That’s because Daniel Riley’s attorney, Dan Diemer, told the presiding judge that he never got a copy of the indictment for his client from Gardner’s Office, so the judge printed one for him while he was in the courtroom, according to local reports.
To make matters worse, the assistant circuit attorney of record on the case didn’t appear at the hearing, but his wife — Jamie Myers, the chief misdemeanor officer for Gardner’s office — did appear but never addressed the court.
“As the head of the misdemeanor division for the office, Assistant Circuit Attorney Jamie Myers leads up associate court for the CAO [Circuit Attorney’s Office],” Gardner spokeswoman Allison Hawk said in a statement. “She handles these arraignment and was there this morning as she does routinely as part of her job responsibilities.”
Edmonson lost her legs in the incident while visiting St. Louis with her volleyball team. Riley, the man charged with assault, armed criminal action and operating a motor vehicle without a valid license, was out on bail awaiting trial for an armed robbery from 2020 and had violated the terms of his bond at least 50 times, according to local reports.
George Soros delivering a speech during the 2023 Munich Security Conference. (Open Society Foundations/YouTube/Video screenshot)
There’s no record of Gardner’s office, which is responsible for monitoring compliance with bond conditions and revoking them when those terms are violated, asking for Riley’s bond to be revoked.
Such incidents couldn’t come at a worse time for Gardner, who’s facing a legal effort by Missouri Attorney General Andrew Bailey to fire her. In February, following the tragedy with Edmonson, Bailey filed a petition quo warranto, the legal mechanism under state statute that allows the attorney general to remove a prosecutor who neglects her duties.
“This is about a quantum of evidence that demonstrates her failure to prosecute cases, failure to inform and confer with victims in cases and failure to file new cases that are referred by law enforcement agencies,” Bailey told Fox News Digital at the time of the filing.
He separately said in a statement that Gardner is “creating” victims instead of “protecting” them.
On Thursday, Bailey subpoenaed the St. Louis city Comptroller’s Office and Budget Division, indicating that, as part of his multi-pronged effort to remove Gardner, he’s trying to investigate the finances of her office.
Missouri Attorney General Andrew Bailey (Bloomberg via Getty Images)
Gardner is one of the first prosecutors whom Soros, a liberal billionaire and Democrat megadonor, bankrolled in 2016 and again for her re-election in 2020.
Her campaign website boasts that she’s “made jail and prison a last resort, reserved for those who pose a true public safety risk,” while limiting “the arrest and detention of people accused of misdemeanors and low-level felonies.”
During Gardner’s tenure, crime spiked in St. Louis, with the city experiencing near-record murder rates. The last two years were among the city’s deadliest in decades, despite murders being down from 2020. Last year, WalletHub calculated that St. Louis had the highest homicide cases per 100,000 residents from July through September of any U.S. city, ranking it the most dangerous city in the country because of high rates of crime and other dangers like car accidents.
Amid high homicide figures, Gardner has declined more cases, issued fewer arrest warrants, charged fewer felonies and prosecuted thousands of fewer cases overall than her predecessor. She has also deferred prison sentences for misdemeanors and nonviolent felonies as part of her reform initiatives.
Gardner says all this is part of her “platform to reduce the number of cases unnecessarily charged in order to focus on the more difficult cases for trial.”
In 2021, though, Gardner came under fire after three murder cases under her purview were dismissed in one week due to prosecutors in her office not showing up for hearings or being unprepared.
Gardner has refused to leave office amid Bailey’s probe, calling it a political witch hunt and suggesting racism was behind some of the criticism against her.