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Retired Cole County judge Richard Callahan to prosecute McCloskeys

by Joe Gamm | February 24, 2021 at 6:30 p.m. | Updated February 24, 2021 at 6:35 p.m.
Judge Richard Callahan asks a question as attorneys representing their respective sides in the case of Missouri's voter photo ID law present arguments Monday, Sept. 24, 2018, in a Cole County courtroom.

The circuit court for the city of St. Louis on Wednesday selected Richard Callahan, of Jefferson City, as a special prosecutor in a case involving a gun-wielding couple in St. Louis.

Callahan, who has most recently served as a senior judge, filling in in courts throughout the state for other judges, is the special prosecutor for Mark and Patricia McCloskey.

The McCloskeys made national news on June 28, 2020, as they waved guns at several hundred Black Lives Matter protesters marching up and down the street in front of their St. Louis mansion. The couple later became headline speakers at the Republican National Convention.

The protesters were in the neighborhood calling on St. Louis Mayor Lyda Krewson to resign after the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis. Protesters took exception to Krewson, who during a livestreamed COVID-19 briefing read names and addresses of people who wrote letters to her, urging her to defund the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department.

Video showed Patricia McCloskey pointing a semi-automatic handgun toward the street and protesters and Mark McCloskey holding a semi-automatic rifle.

Both eventually were charged with unlawful use of a weapon and evidence tampering, to which they have pleaded not guilty.

St. Louis Circuit Attorney Kimberly Gardner was disqualified from the case in December after a judge ruled she created an appearance of impropriety by mentioning the McCloskey case in fundraising emails before the Democratic primary in August, the Associated Press reported.

Missouri Gov. Mike Parson has vowed to pardon the McCloskeys if they are convicted, the Associated Press reported.

Callahan, who was named to the Lincoln University Board of Curators last fall, earned his law degree at Georgetown University. He served as a prosecutor for about 30 years - and was the elected Cole County prosecuting attorney for 16 years.

He was president of the Missouri Association of Prosecuting Attorneys in 1990 and was the Cole County Bar Association president in 1988.

Callahan served as a circuit judge. President Barack Obama appointed him as a U.S. attorney.

He also was special prosecutor in the case against former Missouri Secretary of State Judith Moriarty, who was accused of using her position to help her son file for political office after the deadline had passed. The Missouri House of Representatives impeached her, and the state Supreme Court removed her from office.

Callahan acted as special prosecutor in the case of former state Sen. J.B. "Jet" Banks, who eventually pleaded guilty to filing false tax returns.

Callahan said an investigation into the incidents outside the McCloskey home has been conducted. He said he will have access to the investigation and build on that.

"I'll start with a clean slate. It's the only way you can approach these things," Callahan said.

The prosecutor acknowledges the case is highly politicized.

"The secret is - it's OK to be aware of these outside currents, if you will," he said. "The politicization of this case - that's something I'll endure."

The Associated Press contributed information to this article.


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