St Louis Prosecutor Ouster Effort

St. Louis Circuit Attorney Kim Gardner sits behind her attorneys in a courtroom, April 18, 2023, in St. Louis during the first hearing of a lawsuit by Missouri Attorney General Andrew Bailey seeking to remove Gardner from office. Bailey on Wednesday, May 3, accused Gardner of neglecting her duties as a prosecutor while she took nursing classes. (David Carson/St. Louis Post-Dispatch via AP, Pool, File)

ST. LOUIS (AP) — Embattled St. Louis Circuit Attorney Kim Gardner announced Thursday that she will resign amid calls from Republican leaders for her ouster.

In a letter to Republican Gov. Mike Parson released by Gardner's office, she said she will step aside effective June 1.

Gardner is the city’s first Black prosecutor and a Democrat. Republican Attorney General Andrew Bailey took legal steps to remove her from office in February, alleging negligence.

Bailey has said too many cases, including homicides, have gone unpunished under Gardner’s watch, that victims and their families are left uninformed, and that the prosecutor’s office is too slow to take on cases brought by police.

Gardner said Bailey’s efforts to remove her were politically and racially motivated. A hearing on whether Gardner should be removed had been scheduled for September.

Criticism of Gardner escalated earlier this year after 17-year-old Janae Edmondson, a volleyball standout from Tennessee, was struck by a speeding car after a tournament game in downtown St. Louis. She lost both legs.

The driver, 21-year-old Daniel Riley, was out on bond on a robbery charge despite nearly 100 bond violations that included letting his GPS monitor die and breaking the terms of his house arrest, according to court records. Critics questioned why Riley was free despite so many bond violations.