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2nd robbery suspect walks free after St. Louis circuit attorney's office erroneously lists victim as deceased

Elijah Graham was supposed to go to trial for a 2020 robbery but walked free with after prosecutors told his attorney the victim was dead.

ST. LOUIS — Jim Dandridge learned from the I-Team Wednesday that a second suspect in his son’s robbery case is a free man because St. Louis Circuit Attorney Kim Gardner’s office thought his son was dead.

Elijah Graham’s attorney, Raphael Morris, filed a motion to dismiss the robbery charges against his client Tuesday morning, the day the case was supposed to go to trial, after Assistant Circuit Attorney Natalia Ogurkiewicz erroneously told him the victim was deceased.

“I would say I'm shocked, but it's par for the course with this circuit attorney's office,” Dandridge said. “They don't get anything right."

It’s the second time this week the I-Team has reported on how the mistake over whether Dandridge is alive or dead by Gardner’s office has jeopardized justice in the case.

Daniel Riley is also among the suspects accused of the 2020 robbery.

On Monday, the I-Team reported prosecutors weren’t ready to go to trial in July 2022 with Riley, who is now charged with causing a crash Saturday that cost a 17-year-old volleyball player her legs. In a statement, Gardner's spokesperson said Dandridge's son was deceased, so prosecutors dropped the charges with plans to refile them.

The I-Team obtained a document showing Dandridge's son was in court, along with the witnesses and defense the day trial was supposed to begin.

In a statement to the I-Team Thursday, Gardner's spokeswoman Allison Hawk wrote: "The initial confusion around the victim's status was caused by a computer system error. A victim in a different case with a similar or the same name is deceased. The system incorrectly attached the death certificate notice to all victims with similar names, including this case."

Dandridge said no one from Gardner's office contacted him or his son -- who are both victims of the robbery -- to notify them of any upcoming hearings on the case.

“I'm just so shocked, I mean, this attorney, the prosecutor we went to court with over a year ago, why didn't she call and say, if nothing else, ‘I'm sorry to hear the passing of your son,’ if she cared, but apparently she doesn’t," he said.

Since being charged for the robbery in 2020, Riley has violated the terms of his bond, which includes GPS monitoring, at least 90 times, including the day he left Janae Edmondson without her legs and fighting for her life.

Graham’s attorney said his client also violated the terms of his bond “multiple times,” but no one from Gardner’s office ever asked a judge to revoke it.

The I-Team told Graham’s attorney Wednesday that Dandridge’s son is still alive.

“It’s ridiculous,” Morris said. “I thought it was odd because the victim in another case against my client had died, too, and I asked, 'Are you sure Mr. Dandridge is dead?'”

Morris said Ogurkiewicz was not there for Tuesday’s proceeding, but a representative from Gardner’s office was there and did not dispute whether the victim was dead or alive.

“So now we have another armed felon who robbed my son at gunpoint out on the street and able to do the same thing all over again?" Dandridge asked. "What's going on at our circuit attorney's office? 

"There's no accountability for anything. How does this happen? How? How can you mark on two different files that my son's deceased without any validation?”

Dandridge said Ogurkiewicz called him late Wednesday apologizing for the mistake and vowing to refile charges against Graham. She also told him she asked Judge Bryan Hettenbach on at least three occasions to revoke Riley's bond, but the judge refused to do so.

Hettenbach could not be reached for comment, but the I-Team has obtained records showing he ordered Riley to remain held on bond with GPS monitoring in April 2022 following multiple violations.

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