Robert P. McCulloch Personifies Misconduct by Prosecutors
When discredited Missouri prosecutor Robert P. McCulloch recently defended his calculated manipulation of a grand jury which led jurors to free the policeman who fatally shot Michael Brown last summer, McColloch declared piously that eyewitness accounts must “always match physical evidence.”
McCulloch, however, did not apply that ‘always match’ standard in the case of Antonio Beaver, a St. Louis man wrongfully convicted by in 1997 of a violent carjacking case tried by McColloch.
That carjacking victim had told police her attacker wasyounger, shorter and weighed less than Beaver. McCulloch’s office secured a first-degree robbery conviction and 18-year sentence for Beaver despite those and other salient facts pointing to Beaver’s innocence. Fingerprints from the carjacked vehicle did not match Beaver's. Further, Beaver had a full mustache unlike the assailant, whom that victim described as having had no facial hair. The victim also said her assailant had a cut on his arm from their struggle, yet Beaver had no such arm injury when he arrested one week after that carjacking.
McCulloch’s office initially fought against Beaver’s request to test the DNA evidence that later freed Beaver from prison in 2007, according to an account by the Innocence Project, the respected organization that won Beaver’s release. That Innocence Project account of Beaver’s 2007 release stated he was then at that point the sixth man in St. Louis County to be exonerated by DNA for a conviction based largely on eyewitness misidentification. Five of those six exonerations occurred between 2002 and 2007 that Innocence Project account noted.
Those wrongful convictions cited by the Innocence Project (plus other wrongful convictions in St. Louis County) occurred during the 28-year tenure of Robert P. McCulloch as head of that county prosecutors office. In all those wrongful convictions, prosecutors working under McColloch either sanctioned misconduct by authorities or fought against appeals where inmates challenged flawed evidence used in their respective convictions. Beaver spent ten years in prison. McCulloch became head prosecutor for St. Louis in 1991, six years before the wrongful conviction of Beaver.
Wrongful convictions coupled with other nearly daily abuses by police and prosecutors are what triggered the reactions nationwide to McCulloch's clearing of Ferguson city policeman Darren Wilson for the murder of Michael Brown.