UPDATED at 9:30 a.m. Wednesday with pleas of not guilty and comments by lawyer.
ST. LOUIS — Mark and Patricia McCloskey, the St. Louis couple indicted this month after they brandished guns at protesters outside their Portland Place mansion in June, pleaded not guilty Wednesday to the charges.
The couple waived formal arraignment in an indictment filed last week charging them with unlawful use of a weapon and evidence tampering. Charges filed in July said Mark McCloskey, 63, pointed an AR-15 rifle at protesters and Patricia McCloskey, 61, wielded a semiautomatic handgun, placing protesters in fear of injury.
The grand jury indictment added the count of evidence tampering, alleging the couple altered the pistol Patricia McCloskey was holding on June 28. The couple’s lawyer said the gun was inoperable when she wielded it outside the couple’s Central West End mansion. The protesters were passing the home on the way to a demonstration outside Mayor Lyda Krewson’s residence.
Associate Circuit Judge Michael Colona set the couple’s next hearing for 2 p.m. on Oct. 28. Mark McCloskey’s case has been assigned to Circuit Judge Thom Clark; Patricia McCloskey’s case will go before Circuit Judge Michael Stelzer.
The McCloskeys declined comment after Wednesday’s hearing. Their lawyer Joel Schwartz called the case “a political prosecution,” noting Circuit Attorney Kimberly M. Gardner’s campaign advertisements that mentioned the case before the Democratic primary in August. Gardner defeated her challenger Mary Pat Carl in the primary.
Prosecuting the McCloskeys, Schwartz said, is a waste of resources at a time when St. Louis is grappling with more than 200 homicides so far this year.
“The fact that Kim Gardner and the Circuit Attorney’s Office have chosen to use their judicial resources to prosecute the McCloskeys, who are clearly innocent of any crime, committed no crime whatsoever, is sort of a travesty,” he said.
The McCloskeys are not considering Gardner’s offer of pretrial diversion in lieu of trial, Schwartz said.
He also said the McCloskeys have spoken to President Donald Trump and that Trump “contacts them semi-frequently” but he did not elaborate on the nature of those conversations.
The McCloskeys have sought to have Gardner disqualified from the case over the political emails. Gardner has responded in court filings that she did not tie the case to her reelection efforts and that the McCloskeys should stop turning their gun case into “political theater.”
Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt sought to intervene in the case by filing a brief supporting its dismissal. Gov. Mike Parson has said he would pardon the McCloskeys if they are convicted.
Joel Currier • 314-340-8132
@joelcurrier on Twitter