A St. Louis prosecutor's office is facing criticism after a man whom it failed to prosecute in an armed robbery case last summer was accused of having caused a car crash Saturday that critically injured a teenage volleyball star, leading her to have her legs amputated.
Daniel Riley, 21, was arrested on charges of second-degree assault and operating a vehicle without a valid license, among other charges, after he ignored a yield sign and drove through the intersection of North 11th and St. Charles streets, striking another car and then the teen pedestrian, just after 8:30 p.m., St. Louis police said.
Riley was going 20 mph over the speed limit and didn’t try to brake before the crash, NBC affiliate KSDK of St. Louis reported, citing police. The car flipped onto its roof after Riley hit the other car and the pedestrian, police said.
Court documents obtained by the station show that Riley had been on house arrest with a GPS bracelet since July, when he was to have gone on trial for an armed robbery that occurred in August 2020. The trial was postponed because the St. Louis City Circuit Attorney’s Office was not ready to proceed.
Riley violated the conditions of his monitoring more than 40 times since July 18, most recently five days before the crash, KSDK reported. The circuit attorney’s office did not file a motion with the court to revoke Riley’s bond after those violations, the station reported.
In a statement released Wednesday night, Missouri's Republican Attorney General, Andrew Bailey, demanded St. Louis Circuit Attorney Kimberly Gardner, a Democrat, resign by noon Thursday or face "immediate removal proceedings."
Bailey's office characterized the latest incident is part of a pattern of prosecutorial neglect by Gardner's office, claiming they have a backlog of at least 3,000 cases.
“Instead of protecting victims, Circuit Attorney Gardner is creating them," Bailey said in the statement. "My office will do everything in its power to restore order, and eliminate the chaos in St. Louis caused by Kim Gardner’s neglect of her office.”
Democratic Mayor Tishaura Jones also criticized the circuit attorney’s office in a statement, saying she is in touch with both its office and the court “to review the processes that led up to this preventable tragedy.”
“Our city can and must do a better job of working together to hold those who endanger our communities accountable,” Jones said.
Gardner did not resign by noon Thursday, prompting Bailey to begin legal proceedings to remove her from office.
In a lengthy statement released late Wednesday night, Gardner said she expressed her "personal deepest sympathy" to the victim and her family, and pledged to "put all of our resources into holding Daniel Riley accountable and providing support for the young woman and her family on her road to recovery."
The statement also said that "judges have the sole authority to determine the bond conditions of a defendant" and that "prosecutors asked on several occasions for higher bonds, and those requests were denied."
But court documents show that in two separate hearings that occurred last August and September, attorneys for Gardner’s office agreed that Riley should be released on his own recognizance under house arrest with GPS monitoring.
At a press conference Thursday, Gardner said there were not court records showing her office's alleged requests to revoke the suspect's bond because attorneys made the request verbally, KSDK reported.
Gardner said her office most recently asked the court last month to set a hearing date to address Riley's bond, but that there was no response.
At the Thursday press conference, she called Bailey's attempt to remove her from office “a political stunt of an unelected individual who wants to use politics to stop the voice of the people in the City of St. Louis," according to KSDK.
Gardner's office did not immediately respond to a request for comment from NBC News Thursday.
A teen's dreams cut short
The pedestrian Riley struck was Janae Edmondson, 16, according to information shared by her volleyball team. At the time of the collision, Edmondson was walking with her family back to their hotel after the first day of a volleyball event, the team said, adding that her parents stayed with her as she was rushed to the hospital.
Rhonda Ross, the owner and director of the Mid TN Volleyball Club, told KSDK that Janae will continue to receive treatment in St. Louis for four to five weeks before she can be moved to a hospital closer to her home in Tennessee. Ross confirmed that Janae lost both of her legs because of the extent of her injuries.
As of Tuesday, Janae was on a ventilator and did not yet know she had lost her legs, the station reported.
The team's assistant director, Jeff Wismer, told KSDK that Janae had just committed to play college volleyball.
The club paid tribute to Janae in sharing the news of the crash and called for support for her and her family.
“The whole club loves Janae and values her athletic gifts, toughness, determination, and perseverance,” the team said. “These are things she will need in great measure during the long recovery that lies ahead.”
“At the request of the family, please keep focus on prayers for Janae and allow for comfortable space as they cope,” the club added.
The driver and the passenger of the car Riley collided with — two 23-year-old women — were treated for minor injuries at the hospital, said the police spokesperson, who added that Riley was also evaluated before he was booked into jail.
St. Louis Traffic Accident Reconstruction is investigating, the spokesperson said.
Parents confront Riley at emotional hearing
Riley was denied bail Tuesday at a court appearance, where his defense attorney entered a not guilty plea. He is being held at the St. Louis City Justice Center and is due in court Monday, jail records show.
Janae's parents delivered emotional testimony at Tuesday’s hearing describing how they tried to save her in the moments after the crash, KSDK reported.
Her father, a military veteran, said that it was thanks to his training that he knew how to apply a tourniquet and that he used two belts to stop the bleeding in one of her mangled legs as they awaited emergency responders.
“What he has done to us and my daughter is unchangeable,” he said, adding, “We have to tell her, ‘Your legs are gone.’”