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St. Louis couple who confronted protesters back in court

Mark and Patricia McCloskey leave following a court hearing Wednesday, Oct. 14, 2020, in St. Louis. The McCloskeys have pleaded not guilty to two felony charges, unlawful use of a weapon and tampering with evidence, after been seen waving guns at protesters marching on their private street this past summer. (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson)

ST. LOUIS (AP) — A St. Louis couple accused of waving guns at racial injustice protesters last summer are due back in court Friday, when a judge will consider whether to send the case back to a grand jury to decide if they should have been indicted in the first place.

A St. Louis grand jury indicted Mark and Patricia McCloskey in October on felony charges of unlawful use of a weapon and tampering with evidence. Their attorney, Joel Schwartz, filed a motion this month seeking to remand the case to the grand jury, citing “bias” in St. Louis Circuit Attorney Kim Gardner’s office that he said tainted the grand jury process.

It wasn’t clear ahead of Friday’s hearing when Circuit Judge David Mason would issue a decision. Schwartz and Special Prosecutor Richard Callahan — who was appointed months after the October indictment — declined to speculate.

Demonstrators were marching to the home of then-Mayor Lyda Krewson on June 28, amid nationwide protests after police killed George Floyd in Minneapolis. The protesters ventured onto a private street that includes the McCloskey mansion. The couple, both of them attorneys in their early 60s, said they felt threatened after protesters broke down an iron gate and ignored a “No Trespassing” sign. Protest leaders denied damaging the gate and said the march was peaceful.

Mark McCloskey came out of his home with an AR-15-style rifle and Patricia McCloskey emerged with a semiautomatic handgun. Cellphone video captured the confrontation.

Gardner said the display of guns risked bloodshed. A police probable cause statement said protesters feared “being injured due to Patricia McCloskey’s finger being on the trigger, coupled with her excited demeanor.”

Schwartz, from the outset, alleged that the prosecution was politically motivated.

Callahan, a longtime judge and former U.S. attorney, was appointed special prosecutor after a judge in December ruled that Gardner created an appearance of impropriety by mentioning the McCloskey case in fundraising emails before the August Democratic primary. Gardner went on to win reelection.

The McCloskeys emerged as celebrities in conservative circles. They spoke on video during last summer’s Republican National Convention, and Missouri Gov. Mike Parson has vowed to issue pardons if they are convicted.

Politico recently reported that Mark McCloskey is considering running for the Senate in 2022, after Republican Sen. Roy Blunt announced in March he would not seek reelection.

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