Breaking News
More () »

Byers' Beat: Statistics show dismissed cases up, guilty-as-charged murder convictions down for St. Louis prosecutors

St. Louis Circuit Attorney Kim Gardner's Office said it has a 95% conviction rate on all cases.

ST. LOUIS — St. Louis Circuit Attorney Kim Gardner’s supporters and her office said she has a 95% conviction rate for all cases, and that only 3% to 5% of all cases go to trial.

The office has not provided any documentation to show how it arrived at these statistics, nor specified whether this is for just one year or the total number of years Gardner has been in office.

I’ve been requesting as much data as possible from the courts to track trends related to prosecutions in the city.

And here’s what I’ve found:

The number of cases prosecutors are issuing in the city is down.

A. Lot.

In 2013, which is as far back as the Office of State Courts Administrator’s online chart goes, there were 9,129 cases issued.

Last year, that number dropped to 3,123.

That means there are 65% fewer cases being issued by prosecutors in St. Louis compared to a decade ago.

That number obviously does not include the 4,000 or so cases that officers have submitted for review by prosecutors that have gone nowhere in the past three years.

I also requested the outcomes of jury trials for murders that have happened within the past six months.

There were 20.

Gardner’s office got convictions on the original charges filed in five of them.

By my math, that’s a 25% conviction rate on original charges that a jury didn’t reduce to lesser charges.

Four were found not guilty.

Two trials ended with hung juries.

The remainder ended in convictions for lesser charges by juries, including two first-degree murder charges reduced to involuntary manslaughter convictions another reduced to voluntary manslaughter from first-degree murder and a second-degree murder charge reduced to evidence tampering. 

Another report kept by the courts for years tracks felony cases going back to 2008. The report includes the number of pleas, verdicts, trials and dismissed felony cases.

Just 10 years ago, the number of felony cases that ended with a disposition, whether that be a plea, verdict, or dismissal was 3,953.

Last year, there were 1,472.

That means the number of felony cases that have made their way through the city’s courts have dropped by about 63% in the last 10 years.

At the end of 2022, there were about 1,400 felony cases still pending compared to 2,714 in 2012. That means the number of cases pending in the courts has been cut nearly in half.

Another interesting statistic in the chart is dismissals, the Latin legal term known as cases that are nolle pros.

The number of dismissals before Gardner took office in 2017 hovered between 10% to 15% each year.

During her tenure, that number has ranged between 15% and 36%.

The vast majority of felony cases in the city end in guilty pleas.

In 2022, about two-thirds of all felony cases ended in guilty pleas.

The data doesn’t show whether those were guilty as charged, or guilty on reduced charges.

Gardner’s Office has issued statements saying it’s not the Circuit Attorney’s job to revoke bond and prosecutors made oral motions for a judge to revoke Daniel Riley’s bond. There is no record of those motions. 

Riley violated his bond at least 90 times before he crashed into 17-year-old Janae Edmondson in February. The Tennessee teen was in town for a volleyball tournament and lost both of her legs as a result of the crash.

Gardner said in a press conference her prosecutors made oral motions to revoke his bond, but this chart shows her office routinely files written motions to ask a judge to revoke someone’s bond.

It’s a practice within her office that’s on the rise.

In 2022, prosecutors filed 90 motions to revoke bonds – up from just 21 in 2018.

Not one of them was for Riley.

To watch 5 On Your Side broadcasts or reports 24/7, 5 On Your Side is always streaming on 5+. Download for free on Roku or Amazon Fire TV.

5 On Your Side news app
Google Play

Before You Leave, Check This Out