Barbara Shelly

Barbara Shelly: Missouri attorney general candidate Kurt Schaefer shamefully politicizes a tragedy

Kurt Schaefer, who wants to be Missouri’s next attorney general, is trying to score political points from a murder case.
Kurt Schaefer, who wants to be Missouri’s next attorney general, is trying to score political points from a murder case. File Photo

Last I heard, Missouri was still in America. And in America, we believe in the right to a fair trial. For everyone.

If that is still the case, then where is Kurt Schaefer living?

Schaefer would say he lives in Missouri. He is a member of its state Senate and he is running to be the Republican nominee for attorney general.

But Schaefer must have forgotten the part about Missouri being in America, and that basic principle about the right to a fair trial.

Because the man who wants to be Missouri’s top law enforcement official wants to execute a suspect who has not yet begun his journey through the legal process.

Schaefer made his opinion known loud and clear on Twitter:

Pablo Serrano-Vitorino is charged with murdering four men in Kansas City, Kan., and one Missourian, Randy J. Nordman of New Florence.

The crimes are appalling. But no responsible public official, especially someone who aspires to be state attorney general, calls for an execution in so crude a manner before legal proceedings have even begun.

No responsible prosecutor-to-be calls a suspect “a monster” in an online public forum, as Schaefer did. Apparently it hasn’t occured to Schaefer that, if elected, he may inherit this particular case, and he’s now on record with a prejudicial statement.

Schaefer cravenly used the tragedy to get in a stab at President Barack Obama.

“Because of the incompetence of the Obama administration, five people are dead,” his tweet declares.

Indeed, there are many questions about why Serrano-Vitorino, who was in the country illegally, had not been taken into custody by immigration officials before he allegedly went on a rampage Monday night.

But Schaefer’s eagerness to politicize a tragedy raises serious questions about how measured he would be in the attorney general’s office.

And is he really suggesting a tug of war between Kansas and Missouri as to who should be first to prosecute “and execute” Serrano-Vitorino? That’s contemptible.

Rough discourse is the norm in politics these days. But state attorney general is a serious office that requires a serious officeholder, not a flamethrower who appears more interested in inciting a mob than he does in carrying out justice.