St. Louis, MO – A murder victim’s mother said she was outraged to learn St. Louis Circuit Attorney Kim Garner’s office struck a lenient plea deal with her son’s accused killer and never bothered to contact her about the status of the case.
Dr. Shirley Washington-Cobb said she had been told the case was going to trial, KSDK reported.
She said she was preparing to head to St. Louis from her home in Texas approximately one week ago when she decided to call Garner’s office to confirm the date of the hearing and her planned victim impact statement.
That’s when she learned the attorney handling the case had quit and that the new prosecutor planned to ask the judge for a lenient plea deal, KSDK reported.
“Had I not called on my own that day by chance, I would have never known this was happening,” Washington-Cobb told the news outlet.
Washington-Cobb’s son, Dwight Washington, was beaten to death near the Enterprise Center in February of 2020, KSDK reported.
Investigators said he was stuck multiple times while on the ground, leaving him with a broken jaw, a broken eye socket, and a fracture to the back of his skull, KMOV reported.
Police arrested Washington’s acquaintance, Jarmond Johnson, on a second-degree murder charge.
Washington-Cobb said the original prosecutor handling the case, Jay Godsy, told her there was plenty of evidence to take the case to trial and that he didn’t agree with the eight-year sentence defense was pushing for, KSDK reported.
It wasn’t until she contacted Gardner’s office that she learned Godsy had quit and a new prosecutor, Sai Chigurupati, was moving ahead with the lenient deal.
Chigurupati, who was hired just a month ago, plans to ask the court to sentence Johnson to eight years on involuntary manslaughter next week, KMOV reported.
“He has his hands inside a snack bag as he’s talking to me,” Washington-Cobb told the news outlet. “I am hearing the noise from the bag. He sounds like he is most disinterested.”
She then began putting in emails and calls directly to Gardner, but they were ignored, she said.
So, Washington-Cobb reached out to the judge assigned to the case.
That’s when Gardner finally took the time to call her back, along with Gardner’s Director of Community Engagement Khatib Waheed and her Chief Warrant Officer Chris Hinckley, KSDK reported.
“They basically threatened me and told me if I didn’t agree to this, then he could get nothing,” the grieving mother told the news outlet. “And they tried to blame the police, saying the video didn’t have sound and it was hard to tell if this was just a scuffle.”
They also claimed police hadn’t obtained any witness statements, despite homicide detectives specifically assuring her they had.
Washington-Cobb said her own children managed to track down witnesses who told them they were willing to testify about what they saw, KSKD.
“They brushed it off like it didn’t matter,” Washington-Cobb said of Garner and her staff.
She questioned whether Johnson’s criminal history and background were even taken into consideration when developing the sweetheart deal, KMOV reported.
“If he kills someone else, I hope that Kim Gardner will know she is responsible,” Washington-Cobb told KMOV. “As a black person, we need those who can stand up for us…She would be putting a monster back on the streets and I don’t think she has lost one night of sleep for what she has done. Yes. Fire her.”
She said Gardner has no business being in office.
“She is absolutely in my mind, incompetent and a criminal,” she told KMOV. “It was handled in a callous, uncaring, throw away case. Well, my son was not a throw away… Just so they can quickly get over my son’s case and get on to something else. My heart won’t quickly get over it, what Jarmond Johnson did to my son.”
“Kim Gardner, it appears to me, could care less,” Washington-Cobb told KSDK. “I wish and it would be my hope that she would be fired immediately and not covered by the people who think that she represents the community in a positive way because if one thinks about this logically, about the Black community, if you allow people to get off with an 8-year sentence which might end up being 2 or 3 years, what is your motivation not to kill anyone who annoys you?”
The hearing on the proposed plea agreement is scheduled for July 26, KMOV reported.
Washington-Cobb is begging Judge Rex Burlison not to accept it, according to KSDK.
“Judge Burlison, I would get on bended knee, if necessary, to beg that you review the leniency of the request proposed by this defendant’s attorneys,” she said. “My son’s life was valuable to his family and many others.”