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Murder trial assigned to St. Louis prosecutors 2 days before jury selection ends in acquittal

Court documents show Assistant Circuit Attorneys Sean O'Hagan and Rob Huq were assigned to Stanley Barge's case on Saturday.
Credit: KSDK
Civil courts.

ST. LOUIS — A St. Louis jury found Stanley Barge not guilty Wednesday of murder – a case tried by an assistant circuit attorney who was assigned to the case just two days before jury selection began.

Assistant Circuit Attorney Rob Huq was entered as the attorney of record on the case Saturday. Assistant Circuit Attorney Sean O'Hagan was also present in court when jury selection began Monday.

The second-degree murder trial was originally assigned to Assistant Circuit Attorney Alex Polta, who took an abrupt leave of absence about two weeks ago. St. Louis Circuit Attorney Kim Gardner's office removed him from the case Saturday, according to court documents.

His leave comes at a time when other prosecutors are leaving Gardner's office amid mounting pressure from a lawsuit by Missouri Attorney General Andrew Bailey to remove her from office. 

There are now three attorneys juggling close to 500 felony cases. 

Barge, 32, was accused of shooting 38-year-old Shawn Hunt on July 15, 2022, in the 4800 block of Leduc Street before barricading himself in a nearby home. 

Police sad Barge admitted he shot Hunt following a dispute between them in the Kingsway East neighborhood. At trial, Barge claimed self-defense.

Another case Polta was assigned to involved Jonathon Jones, now 18. He was 16 years old when he was accused of killing Brandon Scott, who crashed his car on the Arch Grounds in September 2021 after being fatally shot.

His trial was scheduled to begin at 9 a.m. Monday, but by 10:30 a.m., no one from the circuit attorney’s office showed up to Judge Scott Millikan’s courtroom.

Jones’ attorney, Assistant Public Defender Cecilia Appleberry, asked the judge to dismiss the case against her client for failure to prosecute or release him on bond, as he has been in juvenile detention and jail since the murder without being brought to trial.

The judge said he would take those motions under advisement “due to the serious nature of the charges” and said he would be filing an order giving Gardner one week to explain to him why she shouldn’t be held in jail, pay a fine or both for being in contempt of court.

That hearing is scheduled for 9 a.m. Monday before Millikan.

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