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Jury will decide case against Missouri governor, judge rules

by Associated Press | March 26, 2018 at 4:10 p.m. | Updated April 11, 2018 at 6:57 p.m.
Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens speaks during an interview in his office at the Missouri Capitol Saturday, Jan. 20, 2018, in Jefferson City, Mo. Greitens discussed having an extramarital affair in 2015 before taking office. (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson)

ST. LOUIS (AP) -- A judge on Monday rejected Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens' request for a bench trial, deciding that a jury will hear the criminal case against him.

Circuit Judge Rex Burlison said after the hearing and outside of the courtroom that he would rule "shortly" on other issues discussed at the hearing, including whether the indictment against Greitens would be dismissed, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports .

Greitens was indicted in February on a felony fourth-degree invasion of privacy charge for allegedly taking an unauthorized partially-nude photo of a woman with whom he was having an affair in 2015, before he was elected. Greitens has admitted to the affair but denied using a photo as blackmail for the woman to remain silent. He has accused Democratic Circuit Attorney Kim Gardner of a politically motivated investigation.

Greitens' trial is set for May 14.

The governor's lawyers argued the trial would be best decided by a judge because of "significant legal and evidentiary questions" that require "objectivity and analysis." They also cited intense pretrial news coverage in their request to waive Greitens' right to a jury trial. The prosecution objected.

Asked after the hearing about his reaction to the decision, defense lawyer Ed Dowd said, "I'm great with a trial by jury." He said he and other defense lawyers are veterans of many jury trials in St. Louis and "I think they'll be great."

Greitens' lawyers argue the indictment should be dismissed because, they allege, assistant prosecutor Robert Steele "flagrantly misled" the grand jury about Missouri's invasion-of-privacy law. The defense said Steele misstated the law when he instructed grand jurors that what Greitens did with the photo was "irrelevant."

Defense lawyer Jim Martin said also argued that there's no evidence a photo exists or that it was transmitted, pointing out that Greitens' lover told grand jurors that she never saw a camera or smartphone during the sexual encounter.

Robert Dierker, chief trial assistant for Gardner, told the court that the transmission of the alleged photo can be "circumstantially inferred from the use of the iPhone" because "devices know how to transmit to the cloud."

"I don't deny that there is no explicit evidence of transmission presented to the grand jury," Dierker said.


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