Lawyer says man killed in West End was targeted

Levi Henning was caught up in the criminal justice system for years.
A 21-year-old St. Louis man was killed as he was on his way to court, the same day a judge cleared his name.
Published: Jun. 30, 2023 at 7:28 PM CDT
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ST. LOUIS (KMOV) -- A 21-year-old St. Louis man was killed as he was on his way to court, the same day a judge cleared his name.

On June 22, 2023, St. Louis Metropolitan Police said Levi Henning was shot and killed outside his family’s home in the West End neighborhood.

News 4 Investigates had been following Henning’s case for months, exposing how city prosecutors made documented mistakes resulting in an unsolved murder case and a man spending years behind bars. His case is one of the dozens former St. Louis Circuit Attorney Kim Gardner is accused of mishandling.

Last Thursday, a St. Louis Circuit Court judge dismissed an armed carjacking case against Henning. In December 2018, when Henning was 17 years old, he was accused of stealing a woman’s car at gunpoint in the Central West End. Henning and his lawyer David Mueller claimed prosecutors made missteps with evidence and let the case drag on for nearly five years.

“I left court that morning ecstatic to share the news with him,” Mueller recalled. “I didn’t see him in court that day, I was a little surprised. I tried to contact him and the family and that’s when I found out.”

While Mueller was in court, police taped off an area outside Henning’s house where he was shot and killed. Mueller says Henning was on his way to court when he was shot.

“Makes it especially painful and cruel to know that he was so close to ending his relationship with the criminal justice system,” Mueller added.

Up until earlier this year, Henning had another case against him. In April 2020, while he was absconding from a teen treatment program linked to the armed robbery case, Henning was accused of murdering Parkway West High School senior Carieal Doss. Henning spent years in jail for a murder he claimed he didn’t commit.

Reporting this year by News 4 Investigates exposed how for years, prosecutors sat on evidence pointing to another suspect. In March, the St. Louis Circuit Attorney’s Office dropped the murder case against Henning citing “insufficient evidence.”

“I’ve never seen a case this bad, not on the police side and certainly not on the circuit attorney’s side,” Mueller said in March after the case was dropped.

Henning’s murder case turned to evidence for the Missouri Attorney General as he took Gardner to court. The attorney general’s court case claimed Gardner mishandled dozens of cases and should be removed from office.

Gardner abruptly resigned last month.

Even with new management at the Circuit Attorney’s Office, Mueller claimed old problems persisted. Henning still had the pending carjacking case. During a hearing in May, city prosecutors admitted to the judge that they were not prepared. Mueller claimed prosecutors continued to mishandle evidence, which ultimately led to the carjacking case being dismissed last week.

“Basically from the time he turned 17 until last Thursday he had been in the criminal justice system facing serious charges not knowing what was going to happen with his life,” Mueller said.

Earlier this year, Mueller announced he’s running for St. Louis Circuit Attorney, a decision he pins on Henning’s case and wanting change.

St. Louis Metropolitan Police declined to comment on Henning’s murder.

“It seems clear somebody was waiting for him. He was absolutely targeted,” Mueller said. “I wouldn’t be surprised if there are people in the community that do know something.”

Mueller told News 4 Investigates police have surveillance video capturing the shooting. News 4 Investigates asked police if they’ll release the video, but did not receive a response.

No one has been arrested, and police have not announced a suspect.

All of this brings questions about the murder of Carieal Doss, the Parkway West student Henning was accused of killing until prosecutors dropped the case. News 4 Investigates recently talked to Doss’ mom who said she is still seeking justice to find out who killed her daughter.