Defense says prosecutors have given up on photo as jury selection enters day 3

ST. LOUIS  —A lawyer for Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens says prosecutors have stopped looking for the photo in connection with his felony invasion of privacy trial, a contention a prosecutor did not dispute in court.

The charge against Greitens stems from his allegedly taking and transmitting a photo of a partially nude woman during a sexual encounter in 2015. Prosecutors have acknowledged that they did not have the photo but left open the possibility that they would obtain it.

Defense lawyer Jim Martin said Monday that the circuit attorney’s office told Greitens’ team Friday that they had obtained information from the cloud but did not have a photo. Martin said prosecutors said they had stopped pursuing a photo.

Judge Rex Burlison asked prosecutor Ronald Sullivan if he had a response to the defense’s contention, and he said he did not.

Jury selection continues Monday.

Opening arguments had been expected to begin Monday, but attorneys instead are still sorting through dozens of prospective jurors who will decide the case.

FILE – In this April 11, 2018 file photo, Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens speaks at a news conference in Jefferson City, Mo. A judge is expected to consider a request to disqualify St. Louis prosecutors from one of the two felony cases against Gov. Greitens. A hearing is scheduled for Tuesday, April 24, 2018 in the computer data tampering case against Greitens. Defense lawyers asked Judge Rex Burlison to require a special prosecutor in the computer tampering case, citing the use of a private investigator in the other felony case against Greitens. (J.B. Forbes/St. Louis Post-Dispatch via AP, File)

Jury selection began Thursday with a pool of 160 prospects. They first filled out a questionnaire, then some were subjected to further questioning by attorneys as they sought to weed out people who could have a bias or for whom service would be too burdensome.

Circuit Judge Rex Burlison acknowledged Friday that the process was taking longer than anticipated. He said some people originally scheduled to be questioned Friday would have to return Monday, and a second phase of the jury selection process would continue into Tuesday.

Greitens has acknowledged having what he says was a consensual affair but has denied criminal wrongdoing. He has declined to directly answer questions about whether he took the photo for which he is charged. Greitens has said the affair started and ended in 2015, as he was preparing to run for governor. He was elected in November 2016.

The woman, who has been identified only as K.S. in court filings, has testified that Greitens bound her hands to exercise equipment in March 2015 in the basement of his St. Louis home, blindfolded her and removed her clothes before she saw a flash and heard what sounded like the click of a cellphone camera. She has said Greitens threatened to disseminate the photo if she spoke of their encounter but later told her he had deleted it.

Greitens faces a separate criminal charge in St. Louis of tampering with computer data for allegedly disclosing the donor list of The Mission Continues to his political fundraiser in 2015 without the permission of the St. Louis-based veterans’ charity he founded. No trial date has been set for that case.

The Legislature also is to convene Friday in a monthlong special session to consider whether to try to impeach Greitens.