McCloskeys demand judge remove prosecutor for allegedly using their case to solicit campaign contribution

The effort to disqualify Circuit Attorney Kim Gardner, a Democrat, contends that her prosecution is politically motivated.

A St. Louis couple charged with unlawful use of a weapon during a confrontation with protesters over the summer asked a judge on Wednesday to disqualify the city’s top prosecutor for allegedly politicizing the couple’s case.

 Mark McCloskey told Fox News that the argument for Gardner’s disqualification is that she allegedly used the couple’s case “in targeted email solicitations for campaign contributions.”

“I think our attorney did a great job of arguing today and the court took it under submission and we’ll just have to wait and see,” McCloskey said.

FILE: Mark and Patricia McCloskey leave following a court hearing in St. Louis. 

FILE: Mark and Patricia McCloskey leave following a court hearing in St. Louis.  (AP)

The couple's court appearance comes after a grand jury indicted Mark McCloskey, 63, and Patricia McCloskey, 61, earlier this month on charges of unlawful use of a weapon and tampering with evidence.

The court issued no ruling on Wednesday, but the couple's attorney, Joel Schwartz, said he thought "a lot of worthwhile came out of" the hearing. 

"It was a motion to disqualify (Circuit Attorney Kim Gardner) based on the appearance of impropriety. Essentially that she politicized these charges," Schwartz told Fox News. 

Asked to gauge whether he thought the court was more favorable to the McCloskey’s or Gardner, Schwartz said: “We’ll find out in a week or so.”

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Gardner's office has argued that "fundraising emails establish her interest was only in pushing back against Republican attacks on her and her prosecutorial authority — which have nothing to do with the defendants."

The McCloskeys gained national attention in late June for brandishing firearms at protesters who had veered onto the private street near their home in St. Louis' posh Central West End area. The confrontation came at the height of nationwide unrest sparked by the police custody death of George Floyd a month prior in Minneapolis

Mark McCloskey emerged with an AR-15 rifle, and his wife displayed a semiautomatic handgun. The confrontation was captured on cellphone video.

No shots were fired, but Gardner, a Democrat, filed the weapons charge, alleging the McCloskeys' actions risked creating violence during what she deemed an otherwise peaceful protest.

The McCloskeys contend they were simply defending their home, in accordance with the law. They also contend that the demonstration was anything but peaceful given that the protesters broke through an iron gate and appeared threatening. Protest organizers say the marchers were not threatening and didn't break the gate.

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The evidence tampering charge was added by the grand jury. The indictment alleges that the couple altered a semiautomatic pistol "to impair its verity" in the investigation.

Republican Missouri Gov. Mike Parson has said he will pardon the McCloskeys if they are convicted.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.