News 4 Investigates: Man accused of murdering St. Louis teen gets case dismissed, CAO accused of mishandling evidence

A St. Louis man charged with murdering Parkway High School senior Carieal Doss almost three years ago, recently had the charges against him dismissed.
Published: Mar. 17, 2023 at 6:53 PM CDT
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ST. LOUIS, Mo. (KMOV) - A St. Louis man charged with murdering Parkway High School senior Carieal Doss almost three years ago, recently had the charges against him dismissed. This week the St. Louis Circuit Attorney’s Office dropped the case against Levi Henning, admitting they didn’t have enough evidence.

Henning was arrested for the April 2020 murder of 18-year-old Doss, who was found shot and killed off Franklin Avenue in the Jeff-Vander-Lou neighborhood.

Henning’s lawyer told News 4 Investigates he believes this is a case St. Louis Circuit Attorney Kim Gardner mishandled and that evidence pointed to another suspect.

“I’ve never seen a case this bad. Not on the police side and certainly not on the Circuit Attorney’s side,” said David Mueller, Henning’s defense lawyer.

Mueller claims Henning sat in jail for years because Gardner’s office held back evidence that he believes clears Henning’s name.

“It’s either gross negligence or willful denial of a defendant’s constitutional rights,” Mueller said.

An anonymous tip led police to Henning, who was 18-years-old at the time. Henning was arrested in April 2020 but it was almost a year later when he was charged in March 2021.

Under a legal process called discovery, defendants are entitled to all relevant investigative records of the prosecution, which includes evidence that may prove their innocence.

According to court filings defense lawyers asked for investigative records, and claim they received some but not all of the records.

Court records obtained by News 4 Investigates show in June 2021, the prosecutor assigned to the case was Assistant Circuit Attorney Srikant Chigurupati. In court filings defense lawyers cited an e-mail where they say Chigurupati acknowledged some of the “discovery was missing” and asked defense lawyers “what discovery was missing as he had a lot on his plate.”

According to court records defense lawyers say Chigurupati provided additional reports but not everything to which the defendant was entitled.

Almost a year later a new prosecutor took on the case and within 24 hours defense lawyers say that prosecutor provided more discovery, including additional DNA reports and 2,415 pages of Facebook records.

Later prosecutors acknowledged to the court that they did initially provide some DNA evidence that pointed to another suspect, even though it wasn’t all of the DNA reports.

Henning switched attorneys in February 2023 and hired Mueller. Mueller says that additional evidence kept pointing to a different suspect. He claims DNA found on the scene was for a different person and ballistics reports showed that same person’s gun may have been a match for the murder weapon.

“Once we developed the alternative suspect in this case I believe we discovered there was more evidence against that individual than there ever was against Mr. Henning,” Mueller said.

Mueller also argued in court filings that in an affidavit for a search warrant police claimed ballistic testing on the gun found on Henning “confirmed” it was the same one used in the murder, he claims that’s inaccurate.

“That report does not exist, in fact the report that came says the exact opposite, this is an unconfirmed report,” Mueller said.

He believes prosecutors should have disclosed that there was inaccurate information in the police affidavit. According to Mueller that record was not provided to him until March 2023.

“There are two people that it falls on immediately, Mr. Chigurupati himself, but when you have a pattern and practice of this kind of denial of rights that also falls on his supervising attorney and in this case it’s Ms. Gardner,” Mueller said.

News 4 Investigates reached out to Mr. Chigurupati for comment and did not receive a response.

Neither the Circuit Attorney’s Office or St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department have responded to requests for comment.

“Somebody has to be held accountable for what’s happening,” Mueller said.

Henning is still in jail for a robbery case he’s accused of from when he was 17-years-old.

Doss’ mother has not responded to requests for comment.