Gun-wielding St. Louis couple seek prosecutor’s removal

FILE - In this Oct. 14, 2020 file photo, Mark and Patricia McCloskey leave following a court hearing in St. Louis. The St. Louis couple facing felony charges for waving guns at racial injustice protesters in June are asking a judge to disqualify the city's top prosecutor, contending that Circuit Attorney Kim Gardner's allegations against them were politically motivated. (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson File)
FILE - In this Oct. 14, 2020 file photo, Mark and Patricia McCloskey leave following a court hearing in St. Louis. The St. Louis couple facing felony charges for waving guns at racial injustice protesters in June are asking a judge to disqualify the city's top prosecutor, contending that Circuit Attorney Kim Gardner's allegations against them were politically motivated. (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson File) (Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

ST. LOUIS – The attorney for a St. Louis couple facing felony charges for waving guns at racial injustice protesters who marched near their home asked a judge Wednesday to remove the city's top prosecutor and her entire office from the case.

A grand jury earlier this month indicted Mark McCloskey, 63, and Patricia McCloskey, 61, on charges of unlawful use of a weapon and tampering with evidence.

The effort to disqualify Circuit Attorney Kim Gardner, a Democrat, contends that her prosecution is politically motivated. The McCloskeys' attorney, Joel Schwartz, cites emails referencing the case that were sent to potential donors ahead of Gardner’s primary election victory in August. He cited one email sent in July, just before she filed charges, and another days later after charges were filed.

“There's no place in our system, in our judicial system, for a political trial,” Schwartz told Judge Thomas Clark II.

Assistant Circuit Attorney Rob Huq defended Gardner, saying she had a right to defend herself from Republican attacks. In charging the McCloskeys, Gardner drew criticism from President Donald Trump, Missouri Gov. Mike Parson and other leading Republicans.

“Any reasonable reading of that email shows that it was obviously a response to those political attacks,” Huq said.

The judge did not issue a ruling but after the hearing, Schwartz said he expects one within the next two weeks.

At issue was a protest on June 28, when a few hundred marchers veered onto the private street near the the McCloskeys' $1.15 million home in St. Louis' posh Central West End area.