A Missouri appeals court on Friday denied St. Louis Circuit Attorney Kim Gardner's appeal challenging the disqualification of her office from prosecuting Mark McCloskey who, along with his wife, drew guns on racial injustice protesters last summer.

O'FALLON — A Missouri appeals court on Friday denied St. Louis Circuit Attorney Kim Gardner's appeal challenging the disqualification of her office from prosecuting Mark McCloskey who, along with his wife, drew guns on racial injustice protesters last summer.

The decision upholds Judge Thomas Clark II's ruling last month that removed Gardner and her office from the case, citing concerns over two campaign fundraising emails by Gardner that referenced the prosecution. Clark's ruling applied only to Mark McCloskey, but attorneys for the couple are seeking to have the ruling apply to Patricia McCloskey's case, too.

A spokeswoman for Gardner said the ruling will be appealed to the Missouri Supreme Court.

The McCloskeys, both of them lawyers in their 60s, face weapons and evidence tampering charges. Both have pleaded not guilty.

They were celebrated in conservative circles but criticized by others for the  June incident that happened during nationwide protests that followed George Floyd's death.

A large group of protesters marching to Mayor Lyda Krewson's home instead detoured onto a private street that includes the McCloskeys' home. They came outside and pointed guns at the protesters, accusing them of trespassing and saying they felt threatened. Protest leaders said the demonstration was peaceful.

The McCloskeys spoke on video during the Republican National Convention and garnered support from President Donald Trump and other leading Republicans. Missouri Gov. Mike Parson vowed to pardon them if they are convicted.

Their attorney, Joel Schwartz, sought Gardner's removal, citing her reference to the case in fundraising emails during her successful Democratic primary campaign in August. Gardner, St. Louis' first Black circuit attorney, won reelection in November.

If Clark's ruling stands, a special prosecutor would be appointed to take over the case.