This Tuesday, attorneys for Falls Church resident Michael Gardner, sentenced to a 22-year prison term for molesting two Falls Church girls in 2011, argued before a three-judge panel of the Court of Appeals of Virginia, and the panel will rule in the next few weeks whether Gardner can appeal to the full Court of Appeals.
Friends and family of Gardner issued the following statement after Tuesday’s hearing: “We are confident that the petition for appeal will be granted. We stand by Michael’s innocence and want justice to be done.” They contended the “lack of a thorough investigation” by the Falls Church Police Department “created the situation we find ourselves in. Forensic evidence was collected by the police that was never investigated or explained. The Falls Church City Police moved forward with a narrative they had created, never questioning the possibility that there were other dynamics at work in the case.”
The parent of one of the girls in the case wrote the News-Press today saying, “The families were not informed of that panel and would liked to have had the opportunity to observe it. Sadly, it’s not the first time we’ve learned of a new legal proceeding from a local media query. That said, we trust that justice and the conviction will be upheld despite the immense resources, influence and (mis)information pursuing a different outcome. We like other citizens wish so very much this had not happened. Life would be better for the girls attacked and all of us in Falls Church, a place we remain proud to call home, even if we don’t always feel as welcome as we’d like.”