LIBERTY, Mo. (AP) — Missouri Gov. Mike Parson is proposing that the state’s attorney general’s office be allowed to intervene in some St. Louis homicide cases to combat a growing murder rate in the city. Parson said Monday he will expand an ongoing special legislative session on violent crime to include giving Attorney General Eric Schmitt’s office “concurrent” jurisdiction in St. Louis in first- and second-degree homicides _ and any related crimes _ if charges have not been filed within 90 days. Parson, Schmitt and other GOP officials have criticized Democratic St. Louis Circuit Attorney Kim Gardner, saying she has concentrated on high profile cases rather than on putting murderers behind bars.
Governor Parson Expands Call to Special Session on Violent Crime
Proposes New Provision to Assist with the Growing Backlog of Murder Cases in St. Louis
(JEFFERSON CITY, MO) – Monday Governor Mike Parson expanded his call to special session on violent crime to include a new provision to assist with the growing backlog of murder cases in St. Louis.
The proposed legislation supplements the St. Louis Circuit Attorney’s Office by allowing the Missouri Attorney General’s Office to take on some of the murder cases that have not yet been prosecuted.
“Homicide rates continue to escalate in Missouri, especially in our urban areas. Innocent lives are being lost, futures are cut short, and families are hurting. This is unacceptable, and we must hold violent criminals accountable,” Governor Parson said. “This proposal is not about taking away authority. It is about fighting violent crime, achieving justice for victims, and making our communities safer.”
“Our mothers, fathers, and children are being killed at a record rate, and many people don’t feel safe in their own communities. Something needs to be done now, and the Attorney General’s Office is ready, willing, and able to step up and help prosecute these most violent crimes in the city of St. Louis,” Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt said. “Through our Safer Streets Initiative, our lawyers are already prosecuting violent crimes in the city at the federal level. We’re here to help, and if given the opportunity, we will work to obtain justice on behalf of victims and prosecute the city’s most violent offenders to create safer communities for all.”
Missouri has seen rapid increases in violent crime rates this year, primarily in the state’s urban areas. Part of Missouri has already experienced more homicides in 2020 than all of 2019, putting the state on track to have its deadliest year on record. As of August 9, there have been 161 murders in St. Louis so far this year.
Despite increasing murders in the City, fewer charges have been filed over the past three years, creating a significant backlog of cases. The St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department reports that only 33 homicide cases have been charged so far this year. In 2019, 40 cases were charged out of 194 total murders, and 61 cases were charged out of 186 murders in 2018.
To assist with the backlog and further address the overall issue of violent crime in Missouri, the proposed legislation authorizes the Attorney General to prosecute the offense of murder in the first or second degree, as well as any other offense that was part of the same course of conduct, in the City of St. Louis.
Under the proposal, the Circuit Attorney still has full and fair opportunity to prosecute murders. The proposal does not allow the Attorney General to supervise or replace the Circuit Attorney. The Attorney General will be able to prosecute cases only if 90 or more days have passed, the chief law enforcement officer makes the request of the Attorney General, and the Circuit Attorney has not yet filed charges.
To view the proclamation, please see attachment.