ST. LOUIS COUNTY, Mo. — Incoming councilman and former St. Louis County police chief Tim Fitch is calling for federal prosecutors to take over the case of suspected Catholic Supply gunman Thomas Bruce.
Fitch is the county councilman-elect in west St. Louis County where Jamie Schmidt was murdered last week. He wants newly elected St. Louis County prosecuting attorney Wesley Bell to turn the case over to the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Missouri for federal prosecution.
Doing so would increase the chances that if convicted, Bruce could face the death penalty.
“This horrific sexual assault and murder begs for the ultimate penalty upon conviction,” Fitch wrote in a news release Tuesday morning.
Bruce is facing 17 charges, including first-degree murder and sodomy.
“The community needs to send a convincing message in senseless deaths such as the one forced upon the victim, Jamie Schmidt,” Fitch wrote in his statement.
Outgoing Prosecuting Attorney Robert McCulloch said the decision on whether to seek the death penalty will be up to the man who's replacing him: Prosecuting Attorney-Elect Wesley Bell.
“I don’t think elected officials, me included, should decide which parts of the law they follow and which ones they don’t follow," Fitch said. "The people of Missouri have authorized the death penalty as part of our law.”
Bell’s campaign website has an entire section dedicated to getting rid of the death penalty.
“Multiple federal statutes call for the ultimate penalty for the type of crimes committed by the suspect in the death of Mrs. Schmidt. Councilman-Elect Fitch respectfully requests U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Missouri review the facts and circumstances of this brutal crime and assume responsibility for the prosecution of the suspect,” Fitch’s statement said in conclusion.
5 On Your Side has reached out to Bell and his office for a response. A spokesperson provided the following statement:
“There is only one prosecutor at a time, thus it would be inappropriate for Mr. Bell to comment on any pending cases prior to taking office.”
U.S. Attorney Jeff Jensen’s office provided this statement:
“We can neither confirm nor deny we are investigating or pursuing federal charges at this time.”
Bruce is being held without bond. He made his first court appearance Monday and asked for a public defender. He’s scheduled to be back in court Dec. 5.