While Missouri Attorney General Andrew Bailey seeks to have St. Louis Circuit Attorney Kim Gardner’s office abolished, issues about Gardner’s agency have existed for years.
James Scales Jr.’s family is suing Gardner on the grounds that prosecutors handled their son’s murder case improperly.
The family was interviewed by News 4 Investigates about their situation last year.
James was shot on September 5, 2017, while he awaited his bus to take him to school. James, 17, was the only eyewitness to another murder, and police and prosecutors think he was killed to prevent him from testifying.
The mother of James reportedly told News 4 Investigates, “My child is gone now when you could have stopped it.”
James’ parents contend that the St. Louis Circuit Attorney’s Office committed a number of errors leading up to his murder. They claimed that James wasn’t given witness protection, as required by Missouri law and supervised by the prosecutor’s office.
James’s family has filed a lawsuit against Gardner, the police department, and other city workers.
One of the family’s attorneys, Andrea McNairy, said, “I think it’s really regrettable that nobody seized the chance to learn from his death.
When McNairy learned about the Attorney General’s legal attempt to have Gardner removed from office, she stated she was puzzled as to why there had not been a public uproar in the six years following James’ death.
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The lawsuit by the Attorney General followed the sad February 2023 accident that resulted in volleyball player Janae Edmondson, 17, losing both of her legs. Daniel Riley, 21, is suspected of triggering the collision.
Edmondson, a Tennessee resident, was leaving a volleyball competition when it happened as she was in downtown St. Louis. In a 2020 case involving an armed robbery, Riley had broken his bond. He had more than 100 bond violations, according to News 4 Investigates.
What conditions will cause someone to claim that there is a problem here? McNairy was pressed.
James’ situation first came out in December 2016. James saw his friend Dwayne Clayton get shot and died the day after Christmas.
James’ parents said that their son came forward with the expectation that his name and identity would be kept private. Keith Graham, according to James, pulled the trigger.
Graham was detained in the St. Louis City Justice Center upon his arrest.
James was a cooperative witness who was scheduled to give a deposition in Graham’s defense.
James’ family reports that during the next year, he dealt with threats such as people confronting him and the family house being shot up.
The notion that James was never placed under witness protection despite reporting the threats to the police and the Circuit Attorney’s Office was disputed by McNairy. “It really is at every turn where you see these opportunities it could have been corrected it could have been righted and it just wasn’t,” McNairy said.
Investigators discovered the murderous plot was plotted inside the City Justice Center and on taped phone calls after James passed away.
James’ parents blamed prosecutors for the fact that no one was found guilty of James’ murder after the matter got to trial.
James’ father said, “I just don’t understand. [We] heard them on the tapes, the perpetrators from the jail saying what they was going to do.”
According to the prosecution, Graham called pals outside the prison while he was inside and discussed ways to “hunt down and kill James.”
They are Devion Gordon, Terez Cook, and William Pearson Jr. James’s murder has been accused of by all three.
Even though their phone talks with Graham from the jailhouse are public documents, the Circuit Attorney’s Office won’t provide them despite News 4 Investigates’ months-old request.
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