St. Louis judge rejects prosecutors’ plea deal, sentences suspect to 10 years for beating homeless man to death

ST. LOUIS, MO – Rejecting a plea deal which called for an eight-year sentence, a judge has sentenced a St. Louis resident to a maximum 10 years in prison, for a reduced charge of involuntary manslaughter in the alleged beating death of a homeless man.

On February 15, 2020, according to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, 29-year-old Jarmond Johnson allegedly assaulted a homeless man, Dwight Washington, at the Civic Center Transit Center in St. Louis.

Johnson fled the scene on foot, but he was later arrested and charged with first-degree assault.

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports that Johnson assaulted Washington three times. The attack was captured on video and described as follows:

“first by pushing him off the curb to the pavement, retreating and returning to strike him in the face, and then picking up Washington’s body and dropping him to the concrete.”

Reportedly, the pair were arguing over money.  According to Washington’s mother, Dr. Shirley Washington-Cobb of Texas, the fight erupted because Washington refused to give Johnson money.

The day after the assault, Washington died of his injuries, and Johnson was charged with second-degree murder.

However, prosecutors subsequently cut a deal with Johnson by reducing the charge to involuntary manslaughter in exchange for a guilty plea.  The deal also included a prison sentence of only eight years.

This deal came as an unwanted surprise to a grieving Dr. Washington-Cobb. Fox News reports that she told them that:

“under previous prosecuting attorneys, an eight-year plea deal was considered ‘absurd’ and that the office would have sought a 20-year sentence against suspect Jarmond Johnson that could at most be reduced to 18 years.”

She added:

“I was told several months ago – in fact, more than told – I was assured by the prosecuting attorney at the time that he felt an eight-year plea deal is absolutely absurd.”

Washington-Cobb learned that the plea and sentencing had been changed without her knowledge when she called for an update.

She told Fox News:

“[U]pon that call, which I considered to be just a routine call, I was then instructed by a prosecuting attorney who had taken over the case that [the original sentencing agreement] was not the case at all – that they had accepted a plea deal.”

Washington-Cobb pointed the finger of blame for the deal squarely at St. Louis Circuit Attorney Kimberly Gardner, saying:

“Kim Gardner is to blame because she’s the leader of – the alleged St. Louis judge rejects prosecutors’ plea deal, sentences suspect to 10 years for beating homeless man to death of this department, but yet her office has a new prosecutor, which her office did not make me aware of. 

“The prosecutor was in and of himself not prepared to handle my son’s case.”

She continued:  

“I’m appalled….Had I not made this routine call, Kim Gardner or someone from her office would not have made me aware of this.”

Fox News reports that Washington-Cobb appealed to Circuit Judge Rex Burlison not to accept the deal from Gardner’s office.

The charges stood, but on Monday, July 26, 2021, Circuit Judge Rex Burlison did reject the sentencing deal.  He instead sentenced Jarmond Johnson to ten years in prison, the maximum for involuntary manslaughter, after Johnson pled guilty.

Burlison explained:

“I can’t control how the state charges, but I can control how it’s sentenced.”

This is certainly not the first time that Circuit Attorney Kim Gardner has come under fire.

In January 2021, Gardner’s office was removed from prosecuting the case against St. Louis resident Mark McCloskey, due to her alleged expoitation of the prosecution by discussing it in fundraising emails for her campaign.

Recently, as Law Enforcement Today reported, she has faced serious misconduct allegations for her actions in a a 2018 investigation into former Missouri Governor Eric Greitens.

According to the New York Post, also under her auspices was the recent dismissal of three murder cases within a week. 

According to Fox2, St. Louis Circuit Court Judge Jason Sengheiser dropped one case because the defendant had a right to a speedy trial, and the prosecutor no-showed three times due to being on maternity leave.

The Post further reports that  Sengheiser, after he found it necessary to dismiss that case,  put possible compromised public safety squarely at the feet of Gardner, saying:

“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 is the responsibility of the Circuit Attorney’s Office.”

Fox2 also reports that the two other murder cases were dismissed due to “absent or unprepared St. Louis City prosecutors” under Gardner.

Fox 2’s legal expert Attorney Chet Pleban told the station:

“Clearly there is a problem with her internal management system that needs a quick fix, someway, somehow. 

“But it is inexcusable that you would have three continuances, three times that she doesn’t show up for a murder case.”

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St. Louis Circuit Attorney Kim Gardner facing misconduct allegations – could lose law license, be removed from office

May 9, 2021

ST LOUIS, MO – According to a recent court filing, St. Louis Circuit Attorney Kim Gardner is alleged of engaging in dozens of instances of professional misconduct – primarily revolving around a 2018 investigation into former Missouri Governor Eric Greitens.

If these misconduct allegations turn out to be true, Gardner could very well lose her law license and effectively be removed from office as a result.

Reportedly, there was a 73-page court filing alleging “more than 50 rule violations,” lodged against Gardner that allegedly occurred during the 2018 investigation and eventual botched prosecution attempt of former Governor Greitens.

The allegations within this court filing are pretty severe, proclaiming that Gardner engaged in practices where she “delivered false statements,” and failed “to disclose evidence,” between the months of March and April of 2018 with respect to the aforementioned investigation.

The allegations contained within the filing came following an investigation into Gardner by the state’s Chief Disciplinary Counsel – which Chief Disciplinary Counsel Alan Pratzel proclaims that there’s ample probable cause that Gardner committed professional misconduct.

Records show that Gardner is slated to stand before a disciplinary hearing panel regarding these alleged instances of professional misconduct.

However, the date of said hearing is unclear as of this time. 

St. Louis University School of Law Professor John Ammann commented on the severity of these accusations against Gardner, referring to them as “very serious,” and that any lawyer faced with the gravity of misconduct alleged would be rightfully worried.

As mentioned earlier, these misconduct allegations against Gardner stem from the investigation and indictment of former Governor Greitens, where he was indicted under charges of felony invasion of privacy charges relating to an extramarital affair dating back to 2015.

The basis of said charge revolved around the former governor allegedly taking illicit photos of his then-paramour and threatened to blackmail the woman if she ever spoke of the extramarital affair.

The initial indictment against Greitens came in February of 2018 and all charges related to the matter were dropped by the prosecutor’s office by May of that same year.

Reportedly, prosecutors were unable to locate evidence of any such illicit photos existing, which is what prompted the dismissal of the charges.

Following the dismissal of charges, Greitens’ lawyers filed a police report in May of 2018 that alleged the former lead investigator for the Circuit Attorney’s Office of committing perjury relating to the criminal proceedings against Greitens.

That former lead investigator, William Tisaby, has since been indicted for multiple counts of felony perjury.

Moving back to the allegations against Gardner, she has since responded to the alleged misconduct, denying that she willfully engaged in any sort of practices.

The attorney representing Gardner, Michael Downey, proclaims that Gardner should not be sanctioned for any alleged misconduct for numerous reasons – going so far as to say that even if minor mistakes were made by Gardner during the proceedings against Greitens, those mistakes “were not deliberate, they did not undermine justice and they did not deny the defendant a fair trial.”

Gardner’s counsel further alleges that these misconduct allegations are merely “another attempt by Ms. Gardner’s political enemies – largely from outside St. Louis – to remove Ms. Gardner and thwart the systemic reforms she champions.”

Reportedly, court filings show that Gardner had asked the courts that these proceedings against her be sealed from the public purview, but said request was reportedly denied.

J. Bradley Young with Harris, Dowell, Fisher & Young L.C. commented on the case, saying that this matter is going to result in one of three outcomes for Gardner:

“The Missouri Supreme Court would have the option to either sanction Ms. Gardner, they could also suspend her bar license, they could revoke her bar license or, if they found that Kim Garnder did not engage in any ethical misconduct, the charges could be dismissed.”

According to Young, if this investigation winds up resulting in Gardner’s law license being suspended or revoked, she would effectively be removed from office and the state governor would have to appoint someone to take over her role.

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In other news pertaining to Kim Gardner, her name became the subject of numerous headlines related to her involvement in the case lodged against the McCloskey family. 

Back in February, we at Law Enforcement Today reported on how she was fighting to retain the ability to prosecute the case against the couple accused of foul play involving firearms during the summer of 2020. 

In April of 2021, the Missouri Supreme Court upheld the prior judge’s decision to separate Gardner from handling the case

Here’s that previous report from February while Gardner was still trying to oversee the prosecution. 

_

ST LOUIS, MO – The prosecutorial back-and-forth continues in the McCloskey case, with St. Louis Circuit Attorney Kim Gardner having recently asked the Missouri Supreme Court to restore her authority to prosecute the couple

For those unaware, Mark and Patricia McCloskey were the focus of widespread outrage due to an incident that occurred back in June of 2020, where the couple were caught on camera brandishing firearms as a mob of protesters formed outside their home after breaching a private/gated community. 

The couple were eventually hit with charges of felony unlawful use of a weapon and evidence tampering. 

Back in December of 2020, we at Law Enforcement Today shared a report on how the St. Louis Circuit Attorney and her office were barred from handling the McCloskey’s case due to Kim Gardner reportedly using the case as political campaign fodder. 

At the time, Circuit Court Judge Thomas Clark II noted the following when stripping the case from Gardner’s office: 

“In short, the Circuit Attorney’s conduct raises the appearance that she initiated a criminal prosecution for political reasons.”

Now in January of 2021, Gardner’s office has made another attempt to get the case back in their possession. 

Back on January 20th, the Missouri Court of Appeals upheld the previous ruling, and Gardner’s office was once again denied from prosecuting the case against the McCloskey’s. 

Which now brings us to the latest effort by Gardner’s office to prosecute Mark and Patricia McCloskey. Gardner’s office petitioned the Missouri Supreme Court on February 25th to have the previous judge’s order disqualifying her and her office from prosecuting the case blocked. 

Considering that there’s already two judges that have heard Gardner’s pleas to regain prosecutorial rights to the case and ruled against her office – there’s a high probability that the endeavor will be moot. 

Furthermore, former U.S. Attorney Richard Callahan was already appointed as the special prosecutor on the case back on February 24th by Circuit Judge Steven Ohmer. 

Callahan was reportedly the U.S. attorney in St. Louis from 2010 to 2017, and was also a circuit judge and a prosecutor in Cole County. The 73-year-old special prosecutor admittedly has some experience when it comes to cases where there are politically-charged elements. 

When Callahan was recently asked about how he’d approach this particular case, he plainly stated that he’s going to give it a fresh start and simply “follow the evidence”.

He said:

“I am going to approach it the same way I’ve done anything in the last 49 years – start with a blank slate, follow the evidence and see where it takes me.”

Both Mark and Patricia McCloskey have pleaded not guilty to the charges brought against them. 

Please follow Law Enforcement Today as we continue to gather updates regarding this case. 

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Author: Lizzy Murica


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