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Gun-owning St. Louis couple plead not guilty to gun and tampering charges

Mark and Patricia McCloskey leave the Carnahan Couthouse on Wednesday, Oct. 14, 2020, after pleading not guilty to two felony charges each of unlawful use of a weapon and evidence tampering for an incident in June when they pointed guns at protesters in front of their Portland Place home. (Laurie Skrivan/St. Louis Post-Dispatch/TNS)

Mark and Patricia McCloskey, the St. Louis couple indicted this month after they armed themselves with guns while protesters demonstrated outside their Portland Place mansion in June, pleaded not guilty Wednesday to the charges.

The couple waived formal arraignment Wednesday in an indictment filed last week charging them with unlawful use of a weapon and evidence tampering. Charges filed in July alleged that Mark McCloskey, 63, pointed an AR-15 rifle at protesters and Patricia McCloskey, 61, wielded a semiautomatic handgun, placing protesters in fear of injury.

Patricia and Mark McCloskey leave the Carnahan Couthouse on Wednesday, Oct. 14, 2020, after pleading not guilty to two felony charges each of unlawful use of a weapon and evidence tampering for an incident in June when they pointed guns at protesters in front of their Portland Place home. (Laurie Skrivan/St. Louis Post-Dispatch/TNS)

The grand jury indictment added the count of evidence tampering, alleging the couple altered the pistol Patricia McCloskey was holding on June 28. The couple’s lawyer said the gun was inoperable when she wielded it outside the couple’s Central West End mansion.

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Associate Circuit Judge Michael Colona set the couple’s next hearing for 2 p.m. Oct 28. Mark McCloskey’s case has been assigned to Circuit Judge Thom Clark; Patricia McCloskey’s case will go before Circuit Judge Michael Stelzer.

Patricia and Mark McCloskey leave the Carnahan Couthouse trailing their lawyer Joel Schwartz, left, on Wednesday, Oct. 14, 2020, after pleading not guilty to two felony charges each of unlawful use of a weapon and evidence tampering for an incident in June when they pointed guns at protesters in front of their Portland Place home. (Laurie Skrivan/St. Louis Post-Dispatch/TNS)

The McCloskeys declined comment after Wednesday’s hearing. Their lawyer Joel Schwartz called the case “a political prosecution,” noting Circuit Attorney Kimberly M. Gardner’s campaign advertisements that mentioned the case before the Democratic primary in August. Gardner defeated her challenger Mary Pat Carl in the primary.

Prosecuting the McCloskeys, Schwartz said, is a waste of resources at a time when St. Louis is grappling with more than 200 homicides so far 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,” he said.

Armed homeowners Mark T. and Patricia N. McCloskey stand in front their house as they confront protesters marching to St. Louis Mayor Lyda Krewson’s house on June 28, 2020. (Laurie Skrivan/St. Louis Post-Dispatch/TNS)

The McCloskeys are not considering Gardner’s offer of pretrial diversion in lieu of trial, Schwartz said.

Schwartz also said the McCloskeys have spoken to President Donald Trump and that Trump “contacts them semi-frequently” but he did not elaborate on the nature of those talks.

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(c) 2020 St. Louis Post-Dispatch

Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.