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Jury Receives Gardner Molestation Case | News

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Jury Receives Gardner Molestation Case

ARLINGTON, Va.  (WUSA) - The jury in the Michael Gardner molestation case has gone home for the night after deliberating for more than two hours Tuesday.   They'll be back at 9:30 Wednesday.

In closing arguments, Defense Attorney Peter Greenspun told jurors, "Michael Gardner is now in your hands. ... He's at your mercy, but in a lot of ways, he's already ruined no matter what happens." 

"This issue is serious business," Greenspun said.  Gardner is charged with three counts of aggravated sexual battery and one count object penetration.  They come from the accusations of three girls, ages 9 and 10 at the time,  who accuse Gardner of fondling their genitals while they were at a sleepover and a slumber party at their home last June.

Commonwealth's Attorney Nicole Wittman told the jury in her closing arguments, "Three little girls came in here with the same thing. With absolutely no motive to lie to you... One after another told you with all the courage they had what the defendant here did to them."

 Speaking about one of the girls Wittman said, "She was nine years old. Not in her house, not with her parents. He's a lot bigger. This is his home."

And about the DNA evidence from that girl's clothing, she said while holding a party of pajama pants and pointing, "The lab finds Mr. Gardner's DNA right here, covering the vaginal area of the pajama pants, exactly where [she] said it would be...It is 3,000 times more likely that it is Michael Gardner's DNA than anyone else's."

Concerning the strongest DNA evidence from another girl's underpants Wittman said, "Right in the area where [she] says the defendant touched her, the lab finds the defendant's DNA. The highest concentration is right on her interior panel of her underwear."

"That's his DNA," said Wittman."

For close to two hours, Greenspun raised doubts about the prosecution's case.  Pointing out Michael Gardner's good reputation, he said, "The Commonwealth wants you to belie common sense."

"To be a deviant pervert, someone who can't be trusted, to be someone you have not been in the first 47 years of your life?"
Why  would  Michael Gardner do this,  He asked. "Why would he do this to his wife and kids? He survived cancer...he has the house of his dreams...Why would he throw it all away?"

Greenspun attacked the DNA evidence in the case implying that any of Gardner's DNA found on the girl's clothing doesn't mean anything. He said, "If you're in someone's house, you are swimming in that person's DNA. "

In rebuttal, Commonwealth's Attorney Wittman called the that theory "nonsense."  She says if it were true, the DNA from a male friend of the defendant who had been living in the basement of the house would have been found on the girls' clothing.  it was not.

Wittman argued that if the "swimming pool" theory was true, it would also mean family members' DNA of one of the girls would have been found on her clothes.  It wasn't.   Although a couple of sperm heads were found on that girl's pajamas.  They were from her father.  there was no semen found and there has been no allegation of abuse.  A DNA  expert testified that sperm is very hardy and can survive and be transferred in the laundry.

Greenspun criticized the Falls Church Police department's investigation saying,  "A whole bunch of material was not tested... What is the truth?...Can you determine the truth? The story is changing a week before the trial."

Greenspun said the children's accounts had 67 inconsistencies.
 "At some point, the kids lose control of this to police who want to prosecute and parents who are upset." He said the police just took what the kids said, and didn't consider whether they had made it up.

In rebuttal, Wittman said that Greenspun had never disputed that three girls were sexually molested at the Gardner house and that they never provided a good reason for why it wasn't Gardner.  She instructed the jury to not speculate and told them to look at the facts.

Each of the three counts of aggravated sexual battery carries a sentence of 1 to 20 years. The object penetration count carries a sentence of five to life.



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