- Associated Press - Thursday, January 30, 2014

ST. LOUIS (AP) - St. Louis prosecutors have filed a motion seeking to keep a group of supporters from attending the sentencing for 22-year-old defendant convicted of armed robbery.

In a motion filed this week by Assistant Circuit Attorney Christine Krug, prosecutors asked the judge to limit attendance at Cornell McKay’s sentencing on Feb. 6 to his immediate family, The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported (https://bit.ly/1eiMRtK ). McKay was convicted in December of a 2012 robbery.

The motion said a group from McKay’s church, First Baptist Church in Villa Ridge, attended McKay’s trial and yelled to McKay as he was escorted away. Members of the group also “verbally assaulted” the victim’s husband afterward in the courthouse elevator, prosecutors said.

Prosecutors filed a new motion Thursday clarifying that they weren’t asking to exclude media or other members of the public from the hearing, but rather specific people “who were present for the trial verdicts and who disobeyed the Court’s admonishment following the verdicts from the courthouse property on the day of sentencing in this matter.”

The church group contends McKay is innocent and that another man committed the robbery. Chris Douglas, an associate pastor at the church, said the group is considering hiring a lawyer to fight the request so they can attend McKay’s sentencing.

“They made it sound like we were animals, which is the furthest from the truth,” he said. “Obviously we were amped up because we care for him so much, but nobody called anybody names, nobody made any threats.”

Prosecutors initially said they wanted to exclude “anyone other than the defendant’s immediate family from the courthouse property on the day of sentencing in this matter,” according to the motion.

Geri Dreiling, spokeswoman for the St. Louis Circuit Attorney’s Office, said in an email Thursday that prosecutors were not seeking to exclude the media or the general public from the proceedings in their initial motion.

“Our motion only seeks to exclude those individuals who failed to follow the court’s admonishment and whose presence could intimidate the victim or chill her willingness to speak to the court,” Dreiling said.

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

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