Surprise: McCloskeys plead out, surrender firearms

Pardon me? “It’s a good day for the McCloskeys,” Mark McCloskey declared after entering a plea deal. That might be news to some who supported Mark and Patricia McCloskey for defending their home against demonstrators. After what appeared to be a series of wins against prosectors, a pardon pledge from the governor, and the husband’s exploration of a Senate run, the plea deal seemed to come out of nowhere:

A St. Louis couple who gained national notoriety last year after they were filmed pointing guns at demonstrators walking near their home each pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor charge on Thursday and agreed to pay a total of nearly $3,000 in fines. The couple, both lawyers, also agreed to give up the guns they had brandished in the confrontation.

Patricia McCloskey pleaded guilty to second-degree harassment and will pay a $2,000 fine. Her husband, Mark, who is running for a U.S. Senate seat from Missouri, pleaded guilty to fourth-degree assault and will pay a $750 fine.

As part of the plea deal, Ms. McCloskey gave up the Bryco handgun she brandished during the June 2020 confrontation, and Mr. McCloskey agreed to relinquish ownership of the weapon he used, an AR-15 rifle. Neither will face jail time under the plea deal.

Mark McCloskey admitted that he’d committed the misdemeanor in his remarks to reporters yesterday, insisting that he’d do it again under the same circumstances. That’s a bit different than their argument up to now. The McCloskeys had insisted all along that they acted in self-defense and that the crowd had already threatened them at the time. They claimed that people in the crowd had pointed guns at their house and that they had broken a gate to gain access.

If that was the case, then the McCloskeys didn’t violate the law. The plea deal suggests that the McCloskeys may have *ahem* exaggerated the threat to themselves and their property. Even more curiously, they already had the misdemeanor charges as an out. Cam Edwards at Bearing Arms noted last month that special prosecutor Richard Callahan (who took over the case after Kim Gardner was disqualified) added the misdemeanor counts to the felony indictment to give the jury a chance to find guilt on lesser charges instead. If the crowd was threatening them, why not give the jury a chance to acquit? Especially with Governor Mike Parson pledging to pardon them no matter what happened?

It’s a strange turn of events, which Cam didn’t see coming either:

I confess that I didn’t see this plea deal coming. With the governor assuring the pair of a pardon, and Mark McCloskey’s senate campaign in full swing, I saw the trial as an opportunity for McCloskey to get a lot of free press coverage without running the risk of actually going to jail or prison if he and his wife were convicted. It’s one thing to run for Senate on a campaign of “I stood up to the mob and stood my ground when I was prosecuted for it.” It’s something else entirely to base your campaign message on “I stood up to the mob but took a plea deal because it was in my best interest to do so.”

This seems inexplicable, especially in light of the pardon pledge. Perhaps Callahan shared some video with the defense that we have yet to see that undermined their case, or maybe Parson quietly let it be known that he lost interest after Gardner’s disqualification. As Cam argues, though, it’s not going to make McCloskey’s campaign look any better.

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