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M 1 • WEDnESDAy • 01.04.2017

Leaders want $138 million for Scottrade SCOTTRADE • FROM A1

renovated locker rooms, renovated concessions stands and new administrative offices. Various entryways and facades would also get makeovers. City and Blues officials also are planning to ask state legislators for $70.5 million for further renovations in a second phase, the timeline for which is still being finalized. But that request comes as Gov.-elect Eric Greitens has publicly opposed taxpayer stadium funding and called it “welfare for millionaires.” A spokesman for Greitens, who takes oice Monday, could not be reached for comment Tuesday. City officials and Blues executives have been talking for more than a year about how to pay for renovations at Scottrade. The city’s $67.5 million would be raised in a tax-exempt bond issue and would be spent in the next three years under the plan. Board of Aldermen President Lewis Reed said a bill would be introduced this week and could get a committee hearing as early as next week. Blues owners intend to contribute $50 million out of pocket over the next 20 to 30 years for additional improvements beyond the other renovations, Blues Chief Executive Chris Zimmerman said. Blues executives and city officials are asking for the state contribution to come in $6 million annual installments. However, Blues officials said that request hasn’t been finalized. Zimmerman said they’re asking for a higher amount from Jefferson City because the state gets a larger share than the city of the annual sales taxes generated by the Blues. Stillman said the stadium generates $14 million total in sales tax annually, with about $6 million going to the city and $8 million to the state. Included in the $138 million in renovations is $10.3 million already spent recently by the Blues to improve water systems and the video production and control room, as well as to install wireless internet in the arena. However, those costs could end up being reimbursed by the state or the city. Records filed with the Mis-


CRISTINA M. FLETES • cfletes@post-dispatch.com

St. Louis Blues Chief Executive Chris Zimmerman speaks at a press conference Tuesday at the Scottrade Center asking city taxpayers to help fund renovations at the facility.

RENOVATING SCOTTRADE CENTER Cost: $138 million City funding: The initial improvements over the irst three years would be paid for by the city through the issuance of $67.5 million in tax-exempt bonds. The bonds would be paid of using about $4 million of the annual city sales tax money already generated at Scottrade as well as a new 1 percent tax on Blues tickets. Remaining funding: The city and the Blues intend to ask the state for about $70 million, coming in annual installments of roughly $6 million. It is unclear whether the Legislature or Gov.-elect Eric Greitens would support that request.

souri Ethics Commission show the Blues and the Kiel Center Partners have hired 14 lobbyists to represent their interests before the Legislature in 2017. That’s a comparatively high number among professional sports teams in Missouri. The St. Louis Cardinals baseball team has seven lobbyists. Three lobbyists are registered to represent the Kansas City Chiefs. Formerly called the Kiel Center, the downtown arena is owned by the city of St. Louis and leased to the Blues, who operate and manage the facility. It opened in 1994 and cost $170 million at the time with $62.4 million in tax-exempt financing. Slay said Scottrade has generated $100 million in tax revenue for the city since it was opened nearly 23 years ago. Now, he added, “We have to take care of our building.” Over the life of the building, private owners have contributed $237 million to building maintenance and improvements, Stillman said. He said combined losses for Blues ownership groups “over the years” were about $500 million.

“The Blues have not exactly been a get-rich-quick proposition over the years,” said Stillman, whose ownership group bought the team in 2012 for an estimated $132 million. Forbes Magazine estimates the team’s current worth at $310 million, ranking 23rd out of 30 NHL teams. Forbes estimates the team’s annual revenue at $129 million, with an operating profit of $3.2 million. Oicials said the stadium directly generates $132 million in spending in the city annually. “These events (at Scottrade) make us money,” Slay said. “The Scottrade Center has been the gift that has kept on giving.” Among events Scottrade may be vying to host in the coming years, officials said: NCAA wrestling tournaments, the NHL All Star game, NCAA men’s basketball regional tournaments, figure skating competitions and the NCAA Frozen Four. Reed stressed that the facility has already paid for police officers and transportation needs but hasn’t had a major upgrade since it was opened. “We must stay competitive,” he

said. In addition to the cityfunded renovations, connections between the Peabody and Scottrade would also be improved through a combination of private and state financing. A new roof, new escalators and elevators, a water cooling system and security upgrades would also be funded under that portion of the plan. The public’s costs would be fixed, meaning any cost overruns on projects would fall to the private ownership group. Tuesday’s news conference came one day after Greitens said he had ”completely ruled out state funding for stadiums.” Greitens’ opposition to state tax credits for a proposed Major League Soccer stadium in St. Louis may eventually nix the city’s efort for a team, ownership group vice chairman Dave Peacock said. Meanwhile, America’s Center and the Dome need about $350 million in renovations, St. Louis Convention and Visitors Commission President Kitty Ratclife has said. America’s Center is owned by the city while the Dome is owned jointly by the city, county and state. Last week St. Louis County Executive Steve Stenger said a specific proposal for the Dome and America’s Center had not yet been submitted by Ratclife’s organization.

judge’s order for new testing. Specifically, they want to compare Prante’s DNA to semen found in the victim, scrapings from under her fingernails, blood left at the scene and any evidence on socks and wire used to bind her. In addition, they want to use a national fingerprint database to look for matches to two prints on a coffee carafe that authorities said the killer clearly had touched; those prints did not match Prante. He was sentenced in 1983 to 75 years in prison for the murder of Karla L. Brown. Prante is held in the Pinckneyville Correctional Center and listed as eligible for parole in 2019, and for release in 2022. Authorities didn’t decide until two years after the 1978 killing, when the unsolved case received a fresh look, that a mark seen in autopsy photos of Brown’s right collarbone area represented a bite. Officials exhumed her body but decomposition had thwarted a better look. Two experts told a jury that the marks in the photos were a bite and consistent with Prante’s teeth, although they could not call it an exact match. A dentist testified that less than 1 percent of people have teeth that could have left the mark. But two defense experts said at the trial it was not clear whether the mark was a bite at all, and insisted that meaningful comparisons with people’s teeth were impossible. The motion by Tepfer and Delger says there have been more than two dozen verified cases of wrongful convictions or indictments based on bite mark testimony, some involving the key prosecution witnesses against Prante: Drs. Lowell Levine and Homer Campbell. Among those now rejecting the reliability of bite mark comparisons are the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology, the Texas Forensic Science Com-

mission and the accrediting organization for forensic dentists.

BITE MARK WAS KEY Investigators looked at other suspects first but zeroed in on Prante after experts said the teeth of the others were incompatible with the marks. He was arrested in 1982. Then-Madison County State’s Attorney Don W. Weber built his prosecution in 1983 on the bite mark and testimony of several of Prante’s friends, who said he told them details about seeing the crime scene — which authorities said was not possible unless he was the killer. A former girlfriend testified that Prante sometimes bit her shoulder during sex, and had once told her he killed a woman. There were no witnesses to Brown’s death nor other physical evidence against Prante. Oicials alleged that Prante, then 28, was drinking and smoking marijuana at a friend’s house in Wood River around noon on June 21, 1978, and noticed Brown, 22, moving into a house next door, at 979 East Acton Street. Brown was a student at Southern Illinois University Edwardsville. Prante, a Navy veteran with no significant criminal record, was an unemployed barge worker. Weber speculated that Brown, whose fiance was at work, may have spurned a sexual advance from Prante and he reacted with rage. She was found bound and nude from the waist down, with her upper body bent over into a 10-gallon container of water in her basement. She had been badly beaten and sexual assault was presumed, although not verified. Although the formal cause of death was listed as strangulation, a diferent forensic pathologist said after the exhumation that she thinks Brown really died of drowning. Jurors deliberated for under seven hours before finding Prante guilty. A confusing aspect of the

evidence was a lab report that both Type A and Type O blood were found at the scene. Brown and Prante both were Type A, raising the question of whether someone with Type O was the killer. But experts have said that characteristics of one blood type can sometimes be found in another. An attempt by a different defense lawyer to get a judge to order a DNA test for blood on a couch cushion in Brown’s basement was rejected in 1993 as coming too late in the appeals process. Illinois later passed a law to accommodate post-conviction forensic testing. Prante’s latest lawyers said he has been uncommonly resolute in denying the crime, to the point of refusing a plea deal that would have foreclosed the risk of receiving a death sentence. Their motion, provided to the Post-Dispatch, includes doubts raised by memory expert Nancy Franklin about the reliability of what witnesses said Prante had told them years before. Franklin warns that time fades memories and increases the risk of subconsciously conflating recollections with things learned from others or from news reports. And the lawyers cite a DNA expert calling the evidence “ripe” for DNA analysis now. The motion seeks only testing, not a new trial. But it suggests that if tests on multiple pieces of evidence were to point to someone else, it would be “overwhelming evidence of Prante’s innocence.” The defense will pay the testing cost, the motion says. Mark Von Nida, the circuit court clerk, said Tuesday the motion had not yet arrived in the mail there. He said his office still has the Brown murder evidence “safely locked away” in a vault. A spokeswoman for State’s Attorney Tom Gibbons said Tuesday that he received a copy of the motion and would review it before deciding whether to oppose it.

2006 • A special commission issues recommendations to ix failing St. Louis Public Schools. 2007 • The Missouri Board of Education revokes the district’s accreditation. A Special Administrative Board is appointed to run the school district. 2008 • Kelvin Adams begins work as district superintendent after being hired by the Special Administrative Board. 2012 • State School Board grants the district provisional accreditation. 2017 • State education leaders recommend the district be fully accredited.


According to published reports, Prante trial witnesses Levine and Campbell were at the forefront of some of the cases in which bite-mark analysis was discredited. Levine had been a key witness against Keith Allen Harward, who was exonerated by DNA testing last year after 33 years in prison for a rape and murder in Virginia. Levine issued a statement saying, in part: “This case should persuade all my colleagues to agree with the need for more scientific research and investigation” of bite-mark evidence. In 2015, the 1987 murder conviction of Steven Chaney was overturned in Dallas under a 2013 Texas state law that allows reconsideration of cases built upon scientific methods later discounted. At issue was bite-mark testimony from Campbell and another forensic dentist, Dr. Jim Hales. Hales had told the jury there was only a “one to a million chance” that Chaney did not bite the victim, but years later filed an affidavit saying bite marks cannot be reliably matched to specific teeth. In Waco, Texas, Campbell testified in a 1986 bite-mark case against a man who then went to prison for a rape and murder. Hale had difered that time, saying he thought it was an accused accomplice who left the mark. DNA testing in 2000 that helped free the two men showed that both experts had been wrong.

under the state’s transfer law. But an upgrade would help remove the stigma that can accompany a lack of full accreditation. It also would likely increase pressure on state and district leaders to decide how to transition the district’s governance from its current threemember appointed board back to its seven-member elected board. Margie Vandeven, Missouri commissioner of education, stressed in an interview that the district’s governance situation is not tied to its accreditation status. “And yet we understand that there is a general interest in seeing that elected board come back into governing the district,” Vandeven said. “What we will continue to do is to figure out a way for a smooth transition.” She said she doesn’t currently have an opinion on how soon that transition should happen. The Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education made its recommendation Tuesday even though the city district technically scored just about half a percentage point outside the fully accredited range on the state’s annual report card of schools last year. When factoring in the difference between last year’s state test results and the previous year’s, St. Louis Public Schools scored well within the fully accredited range for the past two years. Vandeven commended the combined leadership of the district’s Superintendent Kelvin Adams and the appointed board. The two together have been frequently credited for turning the district around in the past decade despite chronic enrollment declines and other challenges, such as teaching vacancies and high student mobility. Full accreditation would mean the district has accomplished what the state wanted it to back in 2007. At that time, the state stripped the district of its accreditation because of its poor academic performance and ineffective governance. Since then, academic performance has improved, but slowly. Last year, 37 percent of district students who took state tests scored at least proficient in English, and 26 percent scored at least proficient in math. “We all know that accreditation means that they’re meeting minimum state standards. There’s still a lot of work to be done, we recognize that,” Vandeven said. “But at this point, we feel confident with the recommendation.” The state education department systematically considers several factors in addition to test scores when considering changes in accreditation status. For example, St. Louis Public Schools has raised its four-year graduation rate to 71.5 percent last year from 67.7 percent in 2013, and its attendance rate to 87.9 percent last year from 79.5 percent in 2013. In 2006, a commission headed by longtime civil rights advocate Frankie Freeman and former Washington University Chancellor William Danforth prescribed a three-member, appointed transitional board to steer the district back to stability. In 2008, that board hired Adams, who is credited with returning the district to provisional accreditation status in 2012. Even before the appointed board was formed, the commission pressed the state Legislature to give instructions on how to transition back from an appointed board. State law says nothing about how district control should be handed back to the elected board. Victor Lenz, vice president of the state School Board, has said there’s a general wish among board members to hold of on transition talks until after the April election, when the next mayor and three of seven St. Louis School Board members will be chosen. The elected board has been meeting for almost a decade without any governing powers or duties. The State Board of Education last voted for the appointed board to continue until at least 2019.

Patrick E. Gauen • 314-340-8154 @pgauen on Twitter pgauen@post-dispatch.com

Kristen Taketa @Kristen_Taketa on Twitter ktaketa@post-dispatch.com

Post-Dispatch reporter Kurt Erickson contributed to this story from Jeferson City. Mike Faulk 314-340-8656 @mike_faulk on Twitter mfaulk@post-dispatch.com

Convicted man’s lawyers want DNA test of evidence SLAYING • FROM A1

State leaders applaud work, progress at city schools

Weber, the former prosecutor, responded by email to a reporter’s query Tuesday, calling eforts on Prante’s behalf “intellectual malpractice.” “I already convinced 12 people beyond a reasonable doubt and feel no obligation to respond to a bunch of misguided liberal do-gooders who think every investigation is like a TV reality show,” Weber wrote.