Frustrated with a mounting homicide total and a new state gun law, St. Louis Police Chief Sam Dotson and Circuit Attorney Jennifer Joyce are turning to the feds for help, says the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. The U.S. Attorney's office has issued federal charges in dozens of gun possession cases after an amendment to the Missouri Constitution made it difficult to get state charges against convicted felons caught with guns. Dotson also is taking some homicide cases to U.S. Attorney Richard Callahan because he believes federal judges and juries are tougher on crime and defense attorneys aren't so willing to take a gamble at trial, even when witness credibility issues are a concern. He said his detectives were looking for ways to take a case federal from the beginning of a homicide investigation.
“If I have a choice, and there is a nexus to a federal crime, I'll take it to federal courts because I have better outcomes in federal courts,” Dotson said. “There is more consistency in sentencing from the federal courts, and defendants must serve 85 percent of their sentence. I'm dealing with a state court where a guy can shoot at a cop and get (probation).” Callahan said the crime rate in the city and the passage of Amendment 5, a gun rights law put before voters last year by the Missouri Legislature, were compelling him to get involved. “Our role is to not get in the way but help where we can,” he said. “And right now, because of the increasing gun violence coupled with crime, in part created by a state legislature that has a complete disconnect with urban violence, there is a bigger role for us to play right now and we're there to play it.