JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (KFVS) - Governor Mike Parson expanded a call to the special session on violent crime.
On Monday, August 10, the governor called for it to include a new provision to assist with the growing backlog of murder cases in St. Louis.
The proposed legislation supplements the St. Louis Circuit Attorney’s Office by allowing the Missouri Attorney General’s Office to take on some of the murder cases that have not yet been prosecuted.
“Homicide rates continue to escalate in Missouri, especially in our urban areas. Innocent lives are being lost, futures are cut short, and families are hurting. This is unacceptable, and we must hold violent criminals accountable,” Governor Parson said. “This proposal is not about taking away authority. It is about fighting violent crime, achieving justice for victims, and making our communities safer.”
Despite increasing murders in the city, the governor’s office said fewer charges have been filed over the past three years, creating a significant backlog of cases. The St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department reported that only 33 homicide cases have been charged so far this year. In 2019, 40 cases were charged out of 194 total murders, and 61 cases were charged out of 186 murders in 2018.
To assist with the backlog and further address the overall issue of violent crime in Missouri, the proposed legislation authorizes the Attorney General to prosecute the offense of murder in the first or second degree, as well as any other offense that was part of the same course of conduct, in the City of St. Louis.
Under the proposal, the Circuit Attorney still has full and fair opportunity to prosecute murders. The proposal does not allow the Attorney General to supervise or replace the Circuit Attorney.
The Attorney General will be able to prosecute cases only if 90 or more days have passed, the chief law enforcement officer makes the request of the Attorney General, and the Circuit Attorney has not yet filed charges.