The mother of a young man allegedly beaten to death near a St. Louis transit station slammed District Attorney Kimberly Gardner after she essentially accidentally found out the prosecutor's office had forged an 8-year plea deal with the suspect without her knowledge.
Dr. Shirley Washington-Cobb, whose son Dwight Washington was allegedly murdered on February 15, 2020, told "The Story" that under previous prosecuting attorneys, an eight-year plea deal was considered "absurd" and that the office would have sought a 20-year sentence against suspect Jarmond Johnson that could at most be reduced to 18 years.
"I was told several months ago – in fact, more than told – I was assured by the prosecuting attorney at the time that he felt an eight-year plea deal is absolutely absurd," she said. "So I said the only part that I would like to participate in happens to be the victim’s impact statement. I went four months without hearing any word."
However, Washington-Cobb told host Martha MacCallum that after waiting so long for an update from her home in Texas, she decided to call to get a status update so she could arrange a flight and other logistics during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic.
"[U]pon that call, which I considered to be just a routine call, I was then instructed by a prosecuting attorney who had taken over the case that [the original sentencing agreement] was not the case at all – that they had accepted a plea deal," she said.
Washington-Cobb added that the new attorney appeared not to know much about Dwight's case and instead asked her for a rundown.
"I said I am in Texas. Isn’t that supposed to be your job to investigate? Well, I’m new. I’m just starting. By the way, there will be no trial. Your son will be getting — we have accepted from Kim Gardner’s office an eight-year plea deal without my knowledge,' she recounted.
Washington-Cobb reiterated that the blame should rest squarely on Gardner, a Democrat who has had a recent history of controversial actions.
"Kim Gardner is to blame because she’s the leader of – the alleged head of this department, but yet her office has a new prosecutor, which her office did not make me aware of. The prosecutor was in and of himself not prepared to handle my son’s case," she said.
"I’m appalled. ‘What are you talking about?’ Had I not made this routine call, Kim Gardner or someone from her office would not have made me aware of this."
Washington-Cobb said she is appealing to Judge Rex Burlison not to accept the deal Gardner's office forged.
Gardner's office released the following statement when pressed by St. Louis NBC affiliate KSDK:
"Our office is unable to comment on that case as it is currently pending. Our Victim Services department works closely with victims and their families."
Earlier this month, three other St. Louis murder cases were dismissed within a week's time, including one in which the prosecutor failed to appear at the courthouse.
In that case, Judge Jason Sengheiser publicly rebuked Gardner's office for "abandon[ing] its duty to prosecute those it charges with crimes," after he tossed out a murder charge against suspect Brandon Campbell, according to the New York Post.
Gardner and her office were also legally removed from their case against now-Missouri Republican U.S. Senate candidate Mark McCloskey, against whom she lodged weapons and evidence tampering charges after McCloskey and wife Patricia brandished weapons as a group of Black Lives Matter protesters ingressed toward their property last year.
McCloskey's attorney had argued Gardner exploited the prosecution by mentioning it in fundraising emails for her successful Democratic primary campaign in August. Gardner was reelected to her post last November.