ST. LOUIS (AP) — A special examiner extracted thousands of images from the cellphone of Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens “and none were found” of a woman whom the governor is charged with photographing while she was at least partially naked, the governor’s attorney said Friday.
As jury selection entered its second day, Greitens’ attorney Jim Martin urged the judge in the Republican governor’s criminal trial to halt the evidence-gathering phase of the investigation that has been going on for four months.
“We believe the time has come to shut this all down,” Martin told St. Louis Circuit Judge Rex Burlison, who made no immediate ruling on the request.
Greitens, 44, faces a felony invasion-of-privacy charge for allegedly photographing a woman without her consent while she was at least partially nude in March 2015 and transmitting the image in a way that could be accessed by a computer. The penalty for first-degree invasion of privacy is up to four years in prison.
The woman, whose name has not been released by authorities, has testified that Greitens bound her hands to exercise equipment in the basement of his St. Louis home, blindfolded her and removed her clothes before she saw a flash and heard what sounded like the click of a cellphone camera. She has said Greitens threatened to disseminate the photo if she spoke of their encounter but later told her he had deleted it.
Greitens has acknowledged having what he says was a consensual affair and has denied criminal wrongdoing, but he has declined to directly answer questions about whether he took the photo. He said the affair started and ended in 2015, as he was preparing to run for governor. Greitens was elected in November 2016.
The trial proceedings began Thursday with potential jurors filling out a questionnaire and, in some cases, answering questions from attorneys. Greitens’ attorneys sought to dismiss people whose answers indicated a potential bias against the governor.
In addition to the invasion-of-privacy case, Greitens faces a separate criminal charge in St. Louis of tampering with computer data for allegedly disclosing the donor list of The Mission Continues to his political fundraiser in 2015 without the permission of the St. Louis-based veterans’ charity he founded. No trial date has been set for that case.
The Legislature also is to convene in a monthlong special session May 18 to consider whether to try to impeach Greitens. If the House does so, the Senate then would appoint a panel of seven judges to preside over a trial on whether to remove him from office.
Associated Press reporter David A. Lieb contributed from Jefferson City.