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Man Loses Speedy Trial Claim In St. Louis

ST. LOUIS - The City of St. Louis did not violate a man's constitutional right to a speedy trial, as Tracy McKee claimed, Circuit Judge John Riley ruled on Monday.

McKee 42, had filed five motions asking for a speedy trial since he was arrested in September 2006 on charges of tampering with motor vehicles.

McKee was released on bond last week, after 19 months in jail. He claimed his case had been delayed by a new scheduling system - which St. Louis circuit judges voted to eliminate in December.

Judge Riley ruled that McKee's rights were violated, hundreds of defendants who have faced such delays could have filed similar motions.

McKee's case drew the attention of the Missouri Supreme Court, which gave Riley 30 days to dismiss the charges or bring McKee's case to trial. The Supreme Court ruled that it did not have enough information to determine if McKee's rights were violated because of the long delay. But Missouri courts have said delays longer than 8 months are "presumptively prejudicial" to a defendant's ability to mount a defense.

Judge Riley wrote that three factors must be weighed once a trial gets beyond the 8-month mark: prevention of pretrial imprisonment, minimization of the defendant's anxiety, and prejudice.

Riley found that the delay had not hurt McKee's ability to defend himself. He cited the two times that McKee agreed to plead guilty, but backed out, lengthening the process. McKee's trial has been set for Jan. 28.

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