ST. LOUIS (AP) – A judge on Monday will consider whether the pivotal witness in Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens’ criminal trial – a woman involved in an affair with him – should be prohibited from testifying.
Circuit Judge Rex Burlison will preside over the hearing, just a week before Greitens stands trial for felony invasion of privacy.
The married Republican governor is accused of taking an unauthorized photo of the woman during a sexual encounter at his St. Louis home in 2015, before he was elected. Four days after the trial begins, Missouri lawmakers will convene a special session to consider impeaching Greitens over allegations of sexual misconduct stemming from the affair and misuse of a charity donor list for his political campaign.
Defense attorneys contend the woman’s testimony has been tainted by the misdeeds of William Tisaby, a private investigator hired by Circuit Attorney Kim Gardner who interviewed the woman. They have accused Tisaby of lying to the court and withholding evidence. He has repeatedly declined to reply to phone messages and emails seeking comment.
Prosecutors have not obtained the alleged photo, so the woman’s testimony is crucial to their case.
In a court filing Thursday, defense attorney Jim Martin wrote that Gardner shares the blame for Tisaby’s actions.
“Everything Mr. Tisaby has touched (all with the help of Ms. Gardner) must be excluded from any trial,” Martin wrote.
The circuit attorney’s office acknowledges missteps by Tisaby but has denied that his actions tainted the case.
Greitens also faces a second, unrelated felony charge of computer tampering for allegedly using a donor list from the veterans’ charity he founded, The Mission Continues, to raise money for his 2016 gubernatorial campaign. A trial date in that case has not been set.
Republican state House and Senate leaders said Thursday that they had enough signatures from each chamber for a special session beginning May 18. It marks the first time in Missouri history that lawmakers have called a special session, which are typically called by the governor.
If the House votes to impeach Greitens, the Senate would appoint a panel of seven judges to conduct a trial on whether to remove him from office. No Missouri governor has ever been forced out of office.
Greitens, once considered a rising star in GOP politics, admitted in January that he had an affair with his St. Louis hairdresser. He was indicted by a St. Louis grand jury on invasion of privacy in February.
His problems escalated in April when a special House committee released a report on the relationship. The woman told the committee that Greitens had restrained, slapped, shoved, threatened and belittled her during a series of sexual encounters in 2015 that at times left her crying and afraid.
Last week, the same committee released a report on Greitens’ alleged misuse of the charity donor list. The report included testimony from a former Greitens aide indicating the campaign also falsely identified the source of the donor list in a settlement with the Missouri Ethics Commission.