Thanks to an independent investigation by Hal Goldsmith that he conducted during his brief time in private practice in between two stints as an assistant U.S. attorney, we now know more about the DNA evidence in the Jason Stockley case.
Goldsmith’s report, released on Friday, September 20, shows that both the City of St. Louis and the State of Missouri were in possession of an analysis of critical DNA evidence in the case when the city’s police board was sued in 2012 by the family of Anthony Lamar Smith, the man Stockley killed in 2011 while on duty as a St. Louis police officer. We know that forensic experts and attorneys working under Missouri Attorney General Chris Koster all knew that evidence looked bad for Stockley and the city. We also know – without having any evidence for how this decision was made or by whom – that this critical evidence was not produced at trial, even though the state was compelled to produce it when demanded by the plaintiff’s attorney, Albert Watkins. We further know that this decision cost the city another $500,000 on top of the original award of $900,000 when Watkins renegotiated the award in 2018 after he found out that this critical evidence had been withheld at trial.
Tragically, we also know that knowing this does nothing to further justice in this or any case. Koster is gone from public life, having been dispatched in the 2016 gubernatorial election by a fraud named Eric Greitens. Koster has an active campaign committee, though its most recent activity was from February 2017, when the campaign was amended to state his next statewide campaign would be August 2024. That’s as close to inactive as an “active” campaign committee gets. As for Stockley, he can never be tried again for killing Smith, due to constitutional protections against double jeopardy, having been acquitted of first-degree murder in a bench trial two years ago.
This critical DNA evidence was introduced in Stockley’s criminal trial but dismissed as irrelevant by Judge Timothy Wilson, who based his judgment on explicit bias. The gun that Stockley claimed that Smith held when Stockley killed him turned up with Stockley’s DNA but not Smith’s, which is what the forensic expert and Koster’s staff lawyers found so troubling. It’s true that DNA can prove a positive – that Stockley handled the gun – but not a negative – that Smith did not handle it. Stockley testified to retrieving the gun from Smith once he shot the man, so he had an alibi (other than planting the gun) for handling it. As for Smith, Judge Wilson did not need DNA evidence to prove the dead man was carrying a gun. As Wilson wrote notoriously in his opinion, “an urban heroin dealer not in possession of a firearm would be an anomaly.” Whether or not Stockley planted the gun on Smith – as the forensic expert and state lawyers clearly suspected – the judge’s explicit bias planted it there.
Anthony Lamar Smith stays dead. Jason Stockley remains free. Judge Wilson is retired. Chris Koster has a lucrative corporate counsel position. Justice remains a fugitive. The whole damn system is guilty as hell.