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County prosecutor’s office investigating delay in fatal crash case

A Steak & Shake parking lot exit in the 14000 block of Manchester Road that was the site of a two-car accident with a fatality.

The St. Louis County prosecuting attorney’s office is conducting an internal investigation about why it took so long to bring charges against the driver of a car involved in a fatal crash two years ago in Ballwin.

Killed in the Dec. 14, 2015, accident was Ballwin resident Kimberly Austill, 52.

According to police reports, Austill was in her car in the exit lane of the Steak & Shake restaurant at Ballwin’s eastern border waiting for heavy, early morning traffic to clear on Manchester Road. As she waited, an eastbound vehicle driven by Geoffrey Kasden veered off the south side of the road and struck the woman’s car.

Since then, the case has been fraught with delays. Ballwin police collected a blood sample Kasden voluntarily gave and delivered it a few days after the accident to the Missouri State Highway Patrol crime laboratory.

Despite a number of follow-up phone calls from Ballwin police to check on the progress of the analysis, results were not received until Nov. 29, 2016, almost a year later.

The analysis showed the presence of methamphetamine and morphine in the blood sample.

Armed with this information, Ballwin police visited Kasden a few days later at the St. Louis County jail where he was being held on unrelated charges. He refused to give any statement about the accident to Ballwin officers but that December 2016 jail visit resulted in an administrative process in which a computerized arrest record was generated. That step generally is required by the prosecuting attorney’s office before issuing a warrant.

On Jan. 5, 2017, Ballwin police delivered its complete investigative packet from the accident to the prosecuting attorney’s office. It would be more than 10 months later – Nov. 20, 2017 – before the prosecutor’s office officially charged Kasden with first-degree involuntary manslaughter while driving under the influence of methamphetamine and morphine.

Kasden, 26, now is confined at the Eastern Reception, Diagnostic & Correctional Center in Bonne Terre.

At the time of the collision that killed Austill, Kasden listed an address on Ries Road in Ballwin. More recent court records now list an address on W. Pearce Boulevard in Wentzville.

Asked what the internal investigation in the prosecuting attorney’s office was looking at as a possible cause for the more than 10-month delay, spokesman Edward Magee said that was the goal of the inquiry – to find out what happened.

Court records show Kasden has faced a number of charges over the years, including drug offenses, resisting and interfering with a felony arrest and assault.

In addition, Kasden was named as the defendant in a wrongful death lawsuit filed in January 2016 by Austill’s parents, Donna Heider and Dr. Thomas Richardson. That lawsuit resulted in a settlement reached earlier this year.

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