Missouri Gov. faces busy month as trial nears - KCTV5 News

Missouri Gov. faces busy month as trial nears

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The governor faces a pair of criminal charges and a possible impeachment hearing. (AP File Photo) The governor faces a pair of criminal charges and a possible impeachment hearing. (AP File Photo)
FAIRWAY, KS (KCTV/AP) -

May will be a busy month for Missouri Governor Eric Greitens.

The governor faces a pair of criminal charges and a possible impeachment hearing.

The married Republican governor is accused of taking an unauthorized photo of the woman while she was partially nude during a sexual encounter in 2015, before he was elected.

A judge ruled Monday that the woman at the center of the allegation will be able to testify. The move is something the defense didn’t want, arguing her testimony was tainted by prosecutors and the private investigator.

Greg Vonhamme, an associate professor of Political Science at the University of Missouri-Kansas City says the judge’s decision could be a big blow to the governor.

"They found the witness against Governor Greitens to be a generally credible witness. If that finding holds and nothing changes from that finding, then Governor Greitens' political career would be in real jeopardy," Vonhamme said.

One of the most important pieces of evidence in the case remains unseen, as the photograph in question has not been presented.

David Langston, a criminal defense attorney, talked about the importance of the image.

"In this invasion of privacy case, first of all, you have to prove there was a photograph, which they have no evidence of," Langston said.

Jury selection in the May 14 trial will begin on Thursday.

Eighty people will be called on Thursday and another eighty will be called on Friday.

Those called will be asked to fill out a questionnaire and will also be asked two questions. First, “Do you know a lot about the case because of what you heard in the media?” And second, “Can you serve on a jury for about a week?”

The trial is expected to last about a week but could last longer due to the high number of motions the governor’s defense team has filed.

Greitens also faces a second, unrelated felony charge of computer tampering for allegedly using a donor list from the veterans' charity he founded, The Mission Continues, to raise money for his 2016 gubernatorial campaign. A trial date in that case has not been set.

Republican state House and Senate leaders have also announced that they had enough signatures from each chamber for a special session to consider impeaching the governor.

The session will begin May 18, only days after the governor’s trial begins, and will allow the special committee in the Missouri State House to continue investigating the governor, even after the legislature is forced to end their regular session.

It will also mark the first time in Missouri history that lawmakers have called a special session, as those are typically called by the governor.

If the House votes to impeach Greitens, the Senate would appoint a panel of seven judges who would decide his fate in office.

One Chillicothe representative wants the hearings but is keeping an open mind.

“My signature upon the petition didn’t guarantee anything to myself other than the fact that hopefully, I had more information before I had to make a decision,” Representative Rusty Black (R-Chillicothe) said.

Missouri House of Representatives Minority Leader Gail McCann Beatty (D-Kansas City) says the outcome of the criminal case will not determine the outcome of the hearings.

“Even if the governor is found not guilty, that does not mean there are not impeachable offenses there,” McCann Beatty said.

By law, the special session will only be allowed to last one month.

No Missouri Governor has ever been forced out of office.

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