Gardner Trial Starts Today
Arlington County Circuit Judge Benjamin Kendrick and a jury of nine women and five men heard opening arguments today in the sexual battery case against Michael A. Gardner.
The judge and attorneys for the prosecution and defense spent the day Monday whittling the jury pool down and finished the job Tuesday. The trial began immediately thereafter and is expected to run through Friday and possibly Monday.
The judge rejected a motion by Gardner’s attorneys to hold two separate trials in the case, one each for allegations from June 16 and 18. The judge also said he would consider a defense motion to transport the jury to Gardner’s home to view the basement in which the alleged attacks took place. Defense attorneys argued that the basement was so dark that any attacker would have been difficult, if not impossible, to identify.
Five women among the prospective jurors were dismissed after indicating that they found the charges disturbing.
Family members of the alleged victims as well as friends of the defendant were in attendance at the proceedings.
Mr. Gardner, husband of Falls Church City Councilor Robin Gardner and a former head of the local Falls Church City Democratic Committee, was arrested June 22 after three girls accused him of touching them in a sexual manner during visits to the Gardner home the previous week.
The trial originally was scheduled for January, but was delayed after the defense asked to see records pertaining to therapy received by two of the girls. According to documents filed in Arlington, parents of the girls refused to give the prosecution the records, but were required to do so by the court, which also required them to be shared with the defense.
Washington’s NBC affiliate and other local news sources are actively covering the case.
By Falls Church Times Staff
April 24, 2012