The gun-toting St. Louis couple who aimed their weapons at Black Lives Matter protesters marching past their mansion in June have pleaded not guilty to charges.
Mark, 63, and Patricia McCloskey, 61, both lawyers, pleaded not guilty to two felony charges of unlawful use of a weapon and tampering with evidence in a brief hearing on Wednesday.
The couple was indicted by a St. Louis grand jury last week and they are due back in court on October 28.
St. Louis Circuit Attorney Kim Gardner originally filed the weapons charge in July and the grand jury added the evidence tampering charge.
St. Louis couple Mark and Patricia McCloskey, both lawyers, pleaded not guilty to two felony charges of unlawful use of a weapon and tampering with evidence on Wednesday. The couple pictured leaving their court hearing Wednesday
The McCloskeys became the target of national media attention in the summer after they emerged from their $1.15 million mansion, in Portland Place, with guns on the night of June 28 when a procession of protesters veered onto their private street
According to the indictment a semiautomatic pistol was altered in a way that ‘obstructed the prosecution of Patricia McClosekey’ on the weapons charge.
Prosecutors say Patricia tampered with her pistol to ‘impair and obstruct’ aspects of the case before the gun was given authorities.
The McCloskeys declined to comment following the hearing.
Their lawyer Joel Schwartz slammed the case as a waste of resources as the city has seen more than 200 homicides this year.
‘The fact that Kim Gardner and the Circuit Attorney’s Office has chosen to use their judicial resources to prosecute the McCloskeys who are clearly innocent of any crime, committed not crime whatsoever, is sort of a travesty,’ Schwartz said.
He also called the case a ‘political prosecution’, noting Kim Gardner included the case in her campaign advertisements ahead of the Democratic primary in August.
‘It’s time to remove the noise. It’s time to remove the politics from this particular case. Deal with the facts. The facts speak for themselves. The facts will indicate that neither Patricia nor Mark McCloskey committed any offense,’ Schwartz added.
The McCloskeys declined comment after Wednesday’s hearing. Pictured leaving court after entering their not guilty pleas
Following the June protest the couple claimed their were defending themselves. Mark McCloskey said he feared for his life seeing the protesters inundate the neighborhood
The couple sported pins on their suits declaring their support for President Donald Trump. The pair also spoke on video on opening night of the Republican National Convention and say they talked to Trump ‘semi-frequently’
He said that the McCloseys have spoken to President Donald Trump and the president ‘contacts them semi-frequently’ but did not elaborate further.
The duo were seen leaving court sporting pins on their suits that supported the president saying ‘Women for Trump’ and ‘Gun Owners for Trump’. They also spoke on video on opening night of the Republican National Convention.
The McCloskeys have blamed the ‘leftist’ Democrats in St. Louis for their plight and have become folk heroes among some conservatives.
Missouri Gov. Mike Parson has defended their right to protect their home and said he will pardon them if they are convicted.
Mark McCloskey expressed anger at the criminal charges after a brief court hearing last week.
‘Every single human being that was in front of my house was a criminal trespasser,’ McCloskey said. ‘They broke down our gate. They trespassed on our property. Not a single one of those people is now charged with anything. We’re charged with felonies that could cost us four years of our lives and our law licenses.’
Their lawyer Joel Schwartz said after the hearing: ‘It’s time to remove the noise. It’s time to remove the politics from this particular case. Deal with the facts. The facts speak for themselves. The facts will indicate that neither Patricia nor Mark McCloskey committed any offense’
Joel Schwartz, lawyer for Mark and Patricia McCloskey, addresses reporters Wednesday after the couple pleaded not guilty to unlawful use of a weapon and evidence tampering. pic.twitter.com/apJylgxwFh
— Joel Currier (@joelcurrier) October 14, 2020
In the June 28 protest, a few hundred people were marching to St. Louis Mayor Lyda Krewson’s home when they walked on a private street of million-dollar homes in Central West End, where the McCloskeys lived in their $1.15 million mansion.
Demonstrators wanted to protest outside Krewson’s home after she released names and partial addresses of people advocating for the police to be defunded amid protests against police brutality and racial injustice.
Mark McCloskey emerged from his home carrying an AR-15 rifle and Patricia came out holding a semiautomatic handgun.
The McCloskeys claimed the protesters ignored their ‘No Trespassing’ sign and broke down an iron gate, but protest leaders said they did not damage the gate.
Attorney Mark McCloskey and wife Patricia leave the Carnahan Courthouse in downtown St. Louis after an appearance on Tuesday, October 6 after they were charged
Patricia McCloskey and her husband Mark McCloskey drew their firearms on protestors, including a man who held a video camera and microphone, as they entered their neighborhood during a protest against St. Louis Mayor Lyda Krewson on June 28
Mark and Patricia McCloskey are seen confronting protesters marching to St. Louis Mayor Lyda Krewson’s house on June 28
Protesters gathered outside the home of Mark and Patricia McCloskey during a protest against racial inequality in St Louis, Missouri
Patricia McCloskey described how protesters ‘broke an iron fence down’ before ‘trying to set fire to the mayor’s house’. Protest leaders said they did not damage the gate
Cellphone video captured the tense confrontation between the McCloskeys and protesters.
The couple said they felt threatened but protest leaders said the demonstration was peaceful on their end. In the end, no shots were fired and no one was injured in the protest.
Mark said to CNN that he ‘feared for his life’ upon seeing protesters broke through the private gate.
‘What’s the definition of terrorism? To use violation and intimidation to frighten the public. That’s what was happening that night. That’s what happened to me. That’s the damage I suffered,’ he said.
However, Gardner said that 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’.
Nine people involved in the protest were charged with misdemeanor trespassing, but the city counselor’s office later dropped the charges.
The charges against Mark and Patricia each carry a potential sentence of up to four years behind bars and $10,000 fines.