St. Louis prosecutors dropped charges Friday against a man arrested and detained for the violent robbery and beating of a cancer patient and business owner last year.
In a statement, Circuit Attorney Kimberly Gardner said it was a “heartbreaking, but necessary decision” for her office. She said prosecutors “didn’t have the evidence to prove who committed this crime beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law at this time.”
In October 2016, Huan Van Le, 65, was robbed and attacked in an alley near his business off Cherokee St. in south city. The culprit got away with his wallet and some credit cards, but caused significant trauma to Le’s head and face.
According to family, Le was undergoing chemotherapy treatments at the time and spent several months in the hospital and a rehabilitation center as a result of his injuries. He died in February 2017.
A suspect, 34, was charged and held in the case for several months. As per policy, Five on Your Side is no longer identifying the man due to the fact charges have been dropped.
Le’s son, Vu, said he was shocked to get the news from prosecutors during a personal visit to his home on Thursday.
“It was like a punch to the gut,” he said.
Le said relatives were looking forward to trial and had every expectation things were proceeding as normal. They had also hoped perhaps charges could be upgraded to murder.
Now, he said they’re disappointed in Gardner’s decision and worried what it means for the case’s future.
“We don’t have closure. I don’t feel like we have closure knowing what the circuit attorney’s office told me,” Le said.
Gardner’s statement went to say, “In some cases, we have a lot of physical evidence, and in others, we have strong eye-witness identification. When there is neither form of evidence, our office is unable to proceed. With the death of Mr. Le from cancer, any opportunity for identification evidence disappeared.”
Gardner, through a spokeswoman, did say the case remains under investigation and that anyone with information should come forward. It’s unclear if the suspect remains in custody on other matters or if he’s been released.
Le said while this is a setback, he’s not giving up hope that someday they’ll see justice for his father and his family.
“My father deserves justice for what happened to him because he didn’t deserve this,” he said.