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Judge acquits man in shooting that leaves 1 dead, 2 wounded

July 31, 2019

ST. LOUIS (AP) — A St. Louis man has been acquitted in a gas station shooting that killed an Atlanta-area man and wounded two others.

Circuit Judge Bryan Hettenbach issued the directed verdict of acquittal Tuesday after prosecutors finished presenting evidence in the case against 19-year-old Anthony Claxton, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports. Such a verdict is issued when a judge determines that the prosecution has not proven its case.

Claxton was charged with first-degree murder, two counts of first-degree assault and three counts of armed criminal action in the August 2017 shooting that killed 27-year-old Darius Rackley, of Decatur, Georgia, and wounded his brother and father. Police have said that when the men left the gas station, a group of men and women followed in two vehicles before opening fire.

Prosecutors “were going on the assumption that my guy had something to do with it,” said Claxton’s lawyer, Terry Niehoff. “And there may have been enough to make that assumption, but not enough evidence.”

Niehoff praised Hettenbach’s ruling, saying, “it took integrity to make that kind of finding with the victim’s family there, knowing that he could be criticized for making that kind of determination on his own.”

Two others charged in the shooting, D’Marco Reynolds, 19, of the Glasgow Village area, and Damonta McClendon, 22, of St. Louis County, are set to stand trial Oct. 15 in St. Louis Circuit Court.

Susan Ryan, a spokeswoman for St. Louis Circuit Attorney Kim Gardner, didn’t immediately comment. Gardner has been under fire for her hiring of a man who led the investigation of former Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens and who now faces perjury charges.

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Information from: St. Louis Post-Dispatch, http://www.stltoday.com

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