JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. – In the week of September 11-15, Governor Eric Greitens rappelled into a bull riding competition, created a board of inquiry into the case of Marcellus Williams, and urged for peace ahead of the acquittal of former police officer in the murder case of Anthony Lamar Smith.
On Sunday, the Governor of Missouri traveled to Springfield where he went to the PBR PFI Western Invitational, a part of the Built Ford Tough Series, the premier tour for professional bull riders. Ahead of the event, Grietens traveled to the roof of the JQH Arena and rappelled down into the stadium. He rappelled before the national anthem as a part of PBR’s Celebrate America Tour. He shared a video on his Facebook page saying, “It was an honor to be a part of PBR Springfield’s ‘Celebrate America,’ honoring our country and our servicemen and women. Thanks to Professional Bull Riders for a great night–incredible athletes and a strong American spirit.”
On Monday, September 11, he attended an event held at the Jefferson State Office Building, where he honored a tradition held by first responders. To remember the sacrifice of firefighters who died in 9/11 to rescue people from collapsing World Trade Centers, he climbed 110 flights of stairs dressed as a firefighter. To honor the tradition, he was given fire fighting equipment – including a helmet, air canister, and a hose – to carry. He and other firemen climbed the stairs of the office building with pictures of fallen first responders taped on the sides of the fire escapes.
Later that day, he traveled to a historically black church in St. Louis where he spoke with members of the church ahead of the announcement of verdict of the case of Anthony Lamar Smith, who was killed by Jason Stockley. The church was held in House District 78, represented by Rep. Bruce Franks. Franks, who was uninvited to the event and showed up anyway and mentioned that Greietens seemed uncomfortable addressing some of the issues members of St. Louis had asked him. Following the event, Franks had a heated dispute with the Governor.
On Tuesday, he created a Board of Inquiry to investigate the case of Marcellus Williams. In August, Greitens issued a stay of execution on Marcellus Williams, who was condemned to death for the murder of Felicia Gale in 2001. However, an inconclusive DNA test of the murder weapon conducted in 2016 meant that Williams may be innocent. To fully determine whether Williams should be pardoned or executed, Greitens created a Board of Inquiry to issue a report after they gathered the facts.
He appointed five retired judges to the Board of Inquiry. The Chair will be Judge Booker Shaw, who served on the Missouri Court of Appeals for seven years and was a trial judge in the 22nd Judicial Circuit for 22. Judge Michael David also will serve on the Board. David was a circuit court judge for more than 25 years. He will be joined by Judge Peggy McGraw Fenner, who served as a circuit court judge for 12 years and was a clerk of the Missouri Court of Appeals for 16. Judge Carol Jackson, who served on the U.S. District Court for 25 years and as a U.S. Magistrate Judge six years earlier, also was appointed to the Board. The fifth and final appointee was Judge Paul Sinden, who served on the Missouri Court of appeals for 18 years and served as a Missouri administrative law judge.
On Wednesday, he appointed Brad Jarrell to the Associate Circuit Court for Stoddard County. Jarrell will replace Judge Stephen Mitchell who retired at the beginning of September. He previously served as an aide and an associate attorney to Judge Robert Mayer.
“Brad Jarrell will be an excellent judge for the 35th Judicial Circuit,” Governor Greitens said. “As a lifelong resident and dedicated community member, I am confident he will serve Stoddard County well on the Associate Circuit Court.”
On Thursday, he readied the National Guard ahead of the announcement of the verdict of Jason Stockley, who killed Anthony Lamar Smith. He sent out a press release in the afternoon saying that the National Guard may be needed to keep critical infrastructure protected and free up local law enforcement.
“As Governor, I am committed to protecting everyone’s constitutional right to protest peacefully while also protecting people’s lives, homes, and communities. Taking the steps to put the Missouri National Guard on standby is a necessary precaution,” he said.
Later that night, he held a Facebook Live with Christina Wilson, the fiancee of Anthony Lamar Smith. He held his hand on her back as she spoke. “I am here to speak on behalf of Anthony and everyone who loved Anthony. I’m not here for the Governor. I’m not here for the media. I’m also here on behalf of my daughter… However the case goes, I ask for peace on behalf of my daughter,” she said. Greitens also spoke asking for protestors to be nonviolent.
On Friday, he met with the Missouri Legislative Black Caucus to discuss how they can ensure that protests of Stockley’s acquittal will be peaceful and nonviolent. “I’m grateful to the many leaders who have stepped forward to work together, and I look forward to continuing to work closely with them,” he said following the meeting. The meeting was productive, according to a statement from the caucus.
“We know this verdict has the potential to upset and hurt many people…We hope that the police response will help to diffuse tensions rather than escalate them. We may have different opinions on policy, but we are united in the belief that any protest must also protect people and property. We also share the belief that the appropriate role of law enforcement is to protect the rights of all Missourians to non-violently protest, while also protecting the community against those who seek to perpetrate violence. The Missouri Legislative Black Caucus looks forward to working together with the Governor and all Missourians to seek equal justice under the law for every citizen of Missouri,” the statement read.
Michael Layer is a reporter for the Missouri Times and the Missouri Times Magazine. He joined the Missouri Times in August 2017 after graduating from Goucher College the previous May. To contact Michael, email email@example.com or follow him on Twitter @_MichaelLayer