ST. LOUIS — St. Louis Circuit Attorney Kim Gardner’s office has “essentially abandoned its duty to prosecute those it charges with crimes.”
This according to St. Louis Circuit Judge Jason Sengheiser, who dismissed a murder case Friday after Gardner’s prosecutors failed to appear for multiple hearings on the case.
Brandon Campbell is accused in the shooting death of Randy Moore back on April 9, 2020.
St. Louis police told the I-Team murder suspect Campbell is now free, despite a statement from Gardner’s office saying it re-filed the charges and that he is in custody.
In that statement, Gardner wrote: "Be assured that as the Circuit Attorney of the City of St. Louis, I am accountable to the public for the actions of the office and remain committed as ever to upholding the highest possible standards and practices of accountability at all levels of this office, particularly the public safety of the residents of the City of St. Louis. As a result, the individual in this case is (sic) custody."
Gardner’s office issued a revised statement at about 7 p.m. Tuesday confirming Campbell remains at large and that the office has kept Moore’s family informed about the case. The St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department Wednesday morning issued a news release asking for the public's help in finding Campbell.
Family members said they haven't heard anything about the case from anyone other than homicide detectives.
Moore's sisters say Gardner’s inaction on their brother’s case is inexcusable and they learned the suspect was free from the I-Team even though state statute requires prosecutors to keep victims' families informed of the developments in their loved ones’ cases.
“Why was it so hard to pick up the phone to call to let us know what was going on?” asked Cierra Moore, Randy Moore’s oldest sister.
Our investigation also found the number of cases getting dismissed since Gardner took office just five years ago has doubled.
And re-filing the charges in this case offers little comfort to Brandy Veasley, another one of Randy Moore’s sisters.
“Kim Gardner is a poor excuse for a prosecutor,” she said. “It's not fair.
“I know she tries to give the Black people chances, but on a murder? No. No.”
'He’s a family person’
Randy Moore, 30, was a father of three young children, twin boys and a little girl.
He was one of 10 siblings; five boys and five girls.
He had just been released from prison two months before his death, was reconnecting with his children and his nieces as well as trying to put his life on the right track, his sisters said.
“He's a family person, he loves his children very well, he loves all his family very well and he loves sisters,” Cierra Moore said.
The night he was killed, prosecutors say Brandon Campbell shot Moore in the 3700 block of Aldine Avenue on April 9, 2020.
His family says the two were lifelong friends in a dispute over a girl.
“It was devastating because I'm like 'We grew up together, he used to come over our house, sit on our porch, eat our food,' you know, just a childhood friend,” Veasley said. “It was devastating to find out that it was him.”
The family also found out more about Campbell’s background when he was indicted for the murder of their brother in February.
It includes six felony convictions.
And, after prosecutors charged him with Moore’s murder, he fled the area.
U.S. Marshals tracked him to Texas and arrested him.
Campbell’s public defender asked Gardner’s office for the evidence against Campbell on multiple occasions, according to the judge’s dismissal order.
In April, one of Gardner’s prosecutors gave the public defender’s office some of the evidence before he stopped working for Gardner, according to the order.
On May 17, Campbell’s public defender filed another motion asking Gardner’s office for the evidence and asked the judge to sanction prosecutors if it was not provided.
On that same day, a different assistant prosecutor was assigned to the case even though she had already begun her maternity leave and was not expected to respond to anything for about three months, according to the judge’s order.
“In the Court’s view, someone from the Circuit Attorney’s Office must be assigned while she is on leave to deal with issues like the ones present here,” the judge wrote. “Otherwise, she is not really on leave.”
On May 27, no one from the prosecutor’s office showed up for a hearing.
Judge Sengheiser then entered an order on June 4 for Gardner’s office to appear for a June 15 hearing.
Again, no one from the prosecutor's office appeared.
The judge then upheld the defense’s motion asking prosecutors to produce all of the evidence in the case, but prosecutors failed to abide by the order.
On June 30, the public defenders filed a motion to dismiss the case for “willful violations of the rules of discovery.”
Sengheiser entered an order for prosecutors to show cause as to why the case should not be dismissed on July 6, setting it for a hearing July 12.
The judge asked a deputy to deliver a copy of that order directly to Gardner’s office.
Campbell’s attorneys showed up at the hearing.
Gardner’s office did not.
Campbell’s attorney showed the court a copy of an email she sent directly to Gardner dated May 28 asking Gardner who she should contact on the case seeing as the prosecutor of record was on maternity leave.
She never got a response.
“The Court does not take this action without significant consideration for the implications it may have for public safety. Although presumed innocent, defendant has been charged with the most serious of crimes…In a case like this where the Circuit Attorney’s Office has essentially abandoned its duty to prosecute those it charges with crimes, the court must impartially enforce the law and any resultant threat to public safety is the responsibility of the Circuit Attorney’s Office,” the judge wrote.
In her statement to the I-Team Tuesday, Gardner wrote: "Upon review of our internal policies and procedures regarding Family Medical Leave, we have determined that corrective measures are needed to further prevent any future repeat occurrence of the incident in question."
Kept in the dark
State statute requires victim’s families be notified of developments in their loved ones' cases.
St. Louis police told the 5 On Your Side Campbell was released from jail Friday, a detail Moore’s sisters said they learned from the I-Team.
Moore’s sisters said they also learned the murder charges were re-filed against Campbell from the I-Team.
It offers them little comfort because it starts the process, “all over again,” Veasley said.
“That's stressful because he can go out of town. He can hide, y’all have to find him, it ain’t like he’s going to turn himself in,” she said.
The I-Team also discovered the number of cases that have been dismissed during Gardner’s tenure is growing and is almost double the rate of dismissals in surrounding jurisdictions.
The National Center for State Courts shows 33% of felony cases filed in St. Louis city’s circuit court get dismissed.
In St. Louis County, 15% of cases get dismissed. In Jefferson County, it's 14%. Seventeen percent of cases in St. Charles County get dismissed.
Historical data from the 22nd Judicial Circuit shows the dismissal rate has doubled since Gardner took office just five years ago.
Gardner successfully ran on a reform platform, pledging to change the justice system and make it more equitable for Black people who are statistically most affected by crime.
St. Louis Mayor Tishaura Jones has supported Gardner’s efforts and issued a statement about this case, which read: "Mayor Jones' administration works with many autonomous departments and divisions throughout the City of St. Louis. The administration is glad to see charges being re-filed in this case, and the administration will continue to pursue proactive policies that address the root causes of crime."
But for Cierra Moore, the number of dismissals piling up in Gardner's office including her brother's leaves her with one question:
“Why aren’t they doing their job?” she asked.
Anyone with information on Campbell's whereabouts is urged to call the Homicide Office directly at 314-444-5371. Or, anyone with information that wants to remain anonymous and possibly receive a reward for their info should contact CrimeStoppers at 866-371-TIPS (8477).
5 On Your Side's Casey Nolen contributed to this report.