Jackson County Prosecutor Jean Peters Baker named special prosecutor in Greitens case

Jean Peters Baker

ST. LOUIS — It will be up to a prosecutor from the metro if the invasion-of-privacy case against Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens will move forward.

St. Louis Circuit Judge Rex Burlison on Monday agreed with a request from the Circuit Attorney Kim Gardner’s office to recuse itself from the case. Susan Ryan, a spokeswoman for the circuit attorney’s office, said that means that a special prosecutor will decide if the charge would be refiled.

So Gardner will no longer be involved in possibly re-filing the invasion of privacy charge against Greitens. Instead, Jackson County Prosecutor Jean Peters Baker will serve as the special the special prosecutor in the investigation.

The judge’s ruling gives Peters Baker discretion to consider not only the invasion-of-privacy charge but “other incidents involving the same victim” that occurred from March 21, 2015, to Sept. 1, 2015.

The Republican governor was indicted by a grand jury in February. He is accused of taking a compromising and unauthorized photo of a woman during an affair in 2015.

The charge was dismissed May 14 during jury selection after the court said it would allow Greitens’ lawyers to question Gardner under oath. Gardner said it would have been improper for her to be a witness in a trial her office was prosecuting.

Gardner, in a statement, praised Baker as “an experienced prosecutor who is widely credited with being unafraid of tackling difficult cases.” She said that if Baker agrees to file charges, the case would remain in St. Louis, not Kansas City.

Baker said that she has assembled a team of prosecutors and staff to begin reviewing the case. She said the review “will be based solely on the evidence.”

“Politics, affiliations or other matters beyond the evidence will not play a role,” she said in a statement.

Burlison’s order said Gardner and her office “are prohibited from any further involvement in this matter except to serve as witnesses in the case.”

Gardner’s office drew criticism from Greitens’ attorneys during several court hearings and filings over the actions of William Tisaby, a private investigator hired for the case. Defense attorneys accused Tisaby of lying to the court and hiding evidence. They accused Gardner, a Democrat, of allowing Tisaby’s actions. Tisaby has not returned several messages from The Associated Press seeking comment.

Greitens also faces a second charge in St. Louis accusing him of misusing a charity donor list for his gubernatorial campaign. And, the state Legislature is meeting in special session to consider impeachment.