KANSAS CITY, Mo. — The criminal case against Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens has been dismissed but charges are expected to be refiled in the case.
Greitens was charged with invasion of privacy over accusations he took a nude photo of a woman he admitted to having an affair with.
The prosecutor in the case, St. Louis Circuit Attorney Kim Gardner, said in a statement that she decided to dismiss the case and refile charges after the governor's legal team named her as a witness in the trial. Gardner called this an attempt to distract the public from the governor's actions.
Gardner will now decide whether to request a special prosecutor or appoint one of her assistants to proceed, according to her statement.
Gardner's full statement can be read at the bottom of this story.
This news comes the same day a lawyer for Greitens claimed that prosecutors have stopped looking for the photo after being unable to find it.
The trial was on the third day of jury selection when the charges were dropped.
Greitens made a statement to the media after the case was dismissed.
Greitens has repeatedly denied any allegations of blackmail or wrongdoing regarding his relationship with the woman.
Greitens still faces a felony charge of computer data tampering. He's accused of using a donor list from a charity he founded, The Mission Continues, for political gain.
41 Action News reached out to the Missouri House Minority Leader Rep. Gail McCann Beatty about the upcoming special session, in a text message she said, "We are still on the floor but the legislature still has a job to do. It was never contingent upon any conviction."
Republican leaders are responding with similar statements. Missouri Senate President Ron Richard and Majority Floor Leader Mike Kehoe said in a joint statement that dismissing the charges does not change the facts uncovered in the House investigation:
“The dismissal of the felony invasion of privacy charge does not change the facts that have been revealed to the Missouri House of Representative’s Special Investigative Committee on Oversight. The House’s investigation and the Circuit Attorney’s case are two separate paths. The members of the House committee have discovered a disturbing pattern of allegations, most of which are completely separate from the case dismissed today. They need time to finish their investigation. We now hope the governor and his staff are more forthcoming with the facts, and they decide to appear before the special investigative committee. The governor has lost the moral authority and the ability to lead the state going forward, and we reaffirm our call that he resign immediately.”
House Speaker Todd Richardson, House Speaker Pro Tem Elijah Haahr, and House Majority Floor Leader Rob Vescovo issued the following statement:
“The legislature is a separate and a co-equal branch of government with a separate responsibility entrusted to it by our Constitution. We owe it to Missourians to have a fair and thorough investigation of the facts. To date the committee’s work has not only provided two reports on the facts to the General Assembly but, more importantly, it has also exposed additional concerns relating to the governor’s conduct. This is why we remain committed to that process and await any recommendations it has for the House. Without the pending trial this week, it allows the Governor to take advantage of our open offer to share his side of the facts.”
Gardner's office sent the following statement to 41 Action News:
Since January, Governor Greitens and his defense team have taken a scorched-earth legal and media strategy and relentlessly attacked the intentions, character and integrity of every person involved in investigating the Governor’s behavior including Missouri House Committee members, the Attorney General, the Circuit Attorney and her team, his victim, her family and those who have called for his resignation.
On February 22, 2018, a Grand Jury indicted Governor Greitens on Felony Invasion of Privacy. The Circuit Attorney has done everything in her power to remain focused on the facts and the truth of this matter. The Circuit Attorney and her team are ready, willing and able to go to trial this week on behalf of the people of the state of Missouri and Mr. Greitens’ victim.
Last week, Governor Greitens made a motion to include the Circuit Attorney as a defense witness. A defendant who wishes to call a prosecutor as a witness must demonstrate a compelling and legitimate reason to do so. Governor Greitens has produced no compelling reason to include the Circuit Attorney as a witness for any purpose. The defense team knows that the tactic of endorsing the Circuit Attorney as a witness is part of their ongoing effort to distract people from the defendant’s actions that brought about both the felony Invasion of Privacy and Computer Tampering charges against him.
22nd Circuit Judge Rex Burlison made an unpreceded decision by granting a request by Governor Greitens’ defense team to endorse the Circuit Attorney as a witness for the defense. The court’s order places the Circuit Attorney in the impossible position of being a witness, subject to cross-examination within the offer of proof by her own subordinates.
While the court has other remedies, such as calling the private attorney of K.S. as a witness, it has chosen not to do so. When the court and the defense team put the state in the impossible position of choosing between her professional obligations and the pursuit of justice, the Circuit Attorney will always choose the pursuit of justice. The court’s order leaves the Circuit Attorney no adequate means of proceeding with this trial. Therefore, the court has left the Circuit Attorney with no other legal option than to dismiss and refile this matter.
The Circuit Attorney and her team will research the best step forward for this case in light of the court’s ruling. The Circuit Attorney will be make a decision to either pursue a special prosecutor or make an appointment of one of her assistants to proceed.
This story will be updated as more information becomes available.