ST. LOUIS (KMOV.com) — The indictments against Mark and Patricia McCloskey, just unsealed Thursday, shed new light on the accusations they are facing.
“To them, it feels like persecution,” said Joel Schwartz, their defense attorney. Schwartz has long-maintained the McCloskeys’ innocence.
“In this particular case, it seems that anything goes,” Schwartz said.
Patricia and Mark McCloskey were indicted on one count each of unlawful use of a weapon, for pointing guns at protestors June 28 and also, tampering with physical evidence, a felony. That tempering charge stems from a pistol, seen in Patricia McCloskey’s hands, which was turned over to police days after the incident. The indictments say the couple altered it, saying doing so “impaired and obstructed the prosecution.”
The law says the guns had to have been readily capable of lethal use. But it’s the prosecution’s actions that are suspect, according to Schwartz.
According to the indictment, the pistol held by Patricia McCloskey was altered before being handed over to police after she pointed it at protesters outside their Central West End home.
A St. Louis police crime lab report obtained by News 4 indicates a prosecutor instructed lab experts to disassemble the gun and reassemble it properly.
“I will certainly make the jury aware of that when the time comes, but I am here to say, the gun was not operable at the time she had it in her hand,” Schwartz said. “If they chose to tamper with the firearms, why would they only tamper with one? It leads us to an illogical conclusion that the grand jury came back with.”
After a brief court appearance Tuesday, Mark McCloskey stood next to his wife and expressed his frustration with his case and the fact that no charges were filed against trespassers.
SLU Law Professor Emeritus John Ammann says it will be experts who will be key to proving the charge.
“It will be experts testifying what they thought about the state of the gun at some point in time,” he said. Ammann says because the McCloskeys have means, the defense team has a whole lot of resources to fight their case.
“This will raise the issue of disparity in the criminal justice system in St. Louis,” he said. “Experts are very expensive, a lot of people cannot afford them, so it will be very interesting the amount of litigation we will see,” said Ammann.
Witnesses, he says, will also be key.
Well over a dozen witnesses listed in the indictments were named only by their initials.
A prosecutor wrote in a motion to redact their names, writing: “Given the international attention this matter has generated, and the violence and vitriol directed towards the Circuit Attorney’s office for the prosecution of this case, the witnesses were understandably reluctant to cooperate.”
But some witnesses, Ammann notes, only just learned they would not be charged with trespassing, after the City Counselor’s Office declined to move forward on nine citations.
“It will be interesting to see what happens with the witnesses who testify without immunity,” Ammann said.
The prosecutor’s office said they were unable to comment. Previously, they had offered the McCloskeys a diversion program, but the office said they were not able to comment as to whether that’s still on the table.
Schwartz told News 4 the McCloskeys will be back in court next week and will be pleading not guilty.
Count on News 4 to continue following the case.
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