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Judge in Gov. Greitens' case will not speed up trial date

Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens speaks to reporters after the 2017 adjourned. Greitens didn't have the smoothest relationship with legislators, including Republicans that control both chambers of the Missouri General Assembly.
File photo | Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio
The trial of Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens, shown here in 2017, will start May 14. Defense attorneys wanted to move it to April.

Updated March 21 at 5:45 p.m. with comments from Wednesday's hearing — Gov. Eric Greitens will go on trial in May in St. Louis for felony invasion of privacy.

St. Louis Circuit Judge Rex Burlison on Wednesday denied an attempt by Greitens' defense team to start the trial in April, in order to get it done before a special state House committee investigating the governor finishes its work.

“The case is set for the 14th of May regardless of what is happening west of here [in Jefferson City],” Burlison told attorneys. “I’m going to keep what’s going on outside the courtroom away so I’m not influenced.”

Prosecutors had originally asked Burlison for a fall trial date and objected to speeding up the process even more.

“Defense attorneys may represent the governor of the state, but we represent the people of Missouri, and they deserve to have this case properly considered,” said Robert Dierker, the chief trial assistant for the circuit attorney. He called the request to expedite “ingenious,” but without merit.

In arguing for an earlier trial date, Jack Garvey pointed to the deposition of William Tisaby, a Michigan-based private investigator hired by the circuit attorney. In it, Garvey said, Tisaby admitted that he had not located the photo that is at the center of the case and was unaware of efforts to locate it. Greitens is accused of taking a semi-nude photo of his then-mistress without her permission and transmitting it so it could be accessed by a computer.

“This is going to be a brief trial,” Garvey said. “Tisaby admitted under oath that the state doesn’t have much. We feel strongly that this needs to be over quickly, especially in light of the lack of evidence.”

Circuit attorney Kim Gardner said Tisaby was not the only investigator working on the case, and he had been brought on for a specific task — to find witnesses. A spokeswoman would not comment on whether the office had yet located the photo.

Edward Dowd, another of Greitens’ attorneys, told reporters after the hearing that they were ready to prove their client’s innocence whenever.

“Our whole goal from the time these charges were brought was to get an early trial setting so that we can prove the governor is innocent of these charges, which he is,” he said.

Burlison has yet to rule on whether he, or a jury, will hear the case. That decision could come Monday.

Follow Rachel on Twitter: @rlippmann

Have questions about the Greitens indictment? Ask them here.

Rachel is the justice correspondent at St. Louis Public Radio.

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