Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens

(Julie Smith/The Jefferson City News-Tribune via AP, File)

Week Out From Greitens Trail, Judge to Make Important Decisions

With jury selection set to start Thursday, it's time for Circuit Judge Rex Burlison to make some decisions.

May 07, 2018 - 8:59 am
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ST. LOUIS (KMOX/AP) - Missouri Governor Eric Greitens' trial for invasion of privacy is scheduled to start one week from today. And with jury selection set to start Thursday, it's time for Circuit Judge Rex Burlison to make some decisions.

Greitens' lawyers will ask Burlison, for the second time, to hear the case alone, saying pre-trial publicity has tainted the jury pool. Last time he said no to that, Burlison made it clear, he wants a jury to judge Eric Greitens so the public will have confidence in the outcome. 

Also Monday, the judge is expected to rule on a defense motion to prevent Greitens former hairdresser from testifying at the trial. 

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.

It's a big decision for the judge, because with no photographic evidence, the case depends on the woman's testimony.

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.

Additional reporting by JIM SALTER, Associated Press