On July 31, 2017, we began following the trial of former St. Louis police officer Jason Stockley, for killing Anthony Lamar Smith. You can read it at this link. The media provided bits and pieces of what happened at trial because the judge did not allow any cameras nor electronic devices in the courtroom.
This case was controversial for several reasons, but the main reason was because Stockley appeared to have planted a gun in Smith’s car. Stockley’s DNA was found on the gun, but not Smith’s DNA.
Stockley opted for a bench trial. Only the judge decides. There is no jury. Trial ended on August 9, 2017. Judge Timothy J. Wilson stated that he would not have a decision entered until after August 18, 2017. The month of August came and went, and there was no decision. Then came reports that St. Louis was preparing to keep the peace because of potential protests and violence if the judge acquitted Stockley. That was the first indication what the judge’s decision would be.
This morning, Judge Wilson entered a 30 page decision that you can read at this link. He entered a ruling of not guilty of first degree murder and not guilty of armed criminal action, saying that the state failed to meet its burden of proof. The judge’s decision sounds as if he would have decided guilty for involuntary manslaughter had the state sought those charges.
This is the decision of the court. The United States does not allow prosecutors to appeal unfavorable decisions. They get one chance only.
Oddly enough, had Anthony Lamar Smith been a defendant and the judge found him guilty and wrote the following in his decision, Anthony might have a good basis to appeal. It’s a statement as to whether Anthony was or wasn’t armed. Judge Wilson wrote on page 26;
“Finally, the Court observes, based on its nearly thirty years on the bench, that an urban heroin dealer not in possession of a firearm would be an anomaly.”