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A detective’s life-threatening brain cancer diagnosis and inability to testify has prompted the Missouri attorney general’s office to drop murder and other charges against four of five accused in a conspiracy to kill two witnesses to a teen’s 2013 killing in St. Louis.

Charges against Latashia Mopkins, 40, Frederick Mopkins, 27, Cortez McClinton, 28, and Travon Knighten, 29, were dropped Friday after a judge denied the state’s request for a delay because the state’s key witness, a city detective, was recently diagnosed with brain cancer and is unable to testify, court records say. Another eyewitness in the case is in a Florida prison and could not be brought to Missouri in time for trial, which had been set for Sept. 10 before St. Louis Circuit Judge Christopher McGraugh.

Prosecutors, in an Aug. 17 motion to delay the trial, said they believed no witness other than the detective battling brain cancer could testify about a forensic evaluation of cellphones allegedly linking the defendants in the case. Mary Compton, a spokeswoman for the attorney general’s office, said the state planned to refile charges once a new expert witness can be found to testify about the cellphones.

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