An 11-year-old girl this morning identified Falls Church resident Michael Gardner as the man who touched her inappropriately last June 18 while attending a slumber party at the defendant’s home.
The testimony came at the start of the second day of Gardner’s trial in Arlington Circuit Court on four counts of aggravated sexual battery and sexual penetration. A 10-year-old girl testified Tuesday that Gardner had fondled and penetrated her at the same party.
Underwear and pajama bottoms belonging to the two girls and later tested found that Gardner “could not be eliminated as a contributor to the DNA profile” found on them, Kelly Loynes, a forensic scientist at the Virginia Department of Forensic Science told the court later in the day.
Testing of spermatazoa found in the crotch area of the 11-year-old girl’s pajama pants determined that her father “could not be eliminated as a contributor to that DNA profile,” but that Gardner and another man who had once lived with the Gardners, including on the two nights of the alleged attacks last June, could be eliminated, Loynes stated.
Loynes stated that she had personally conducted the tests on the clothing, which were supplied to the Manassas facility by the Falls Church Police Department.
The 11-year-old complainant told the court that Gardner touched her private parts through her pajamas on three separate occasions early in the morning on June 18, and that between those occasions he walked up the stairs from the basement sleepover and then returned downstairs. She testified to being able to see in the room because of a night light and because “there was some light coming [in] from the windows.”
In cross-examination conducted yesterday by Peter Greenspun, one of Gardner’s defense attorneys, she stated that the night-light, which was in the design of a snowman and was plugged in across the basement from where she and several other girls slept, “didn’t” light up her side of the room.
The girl also affirmed the accuracy of a series of photographs Greenspun displayed that depicted the approximate layout of the room that night, including the placement of mattresses and sleeping bags in which the group of girls slept while visiting the home to celebrate the birthday of Gardner’s daughter.
Falls Church Police Department officials testified as prosecution witnesses to establish the chain of custody of evidence, which included the clothing of the two girls and cheek swabs taken of them, Gardner, the 11-year-old girl’s father and four siblings and a man staying in the home.
In her testimony earlier in the morning, the girl said that the person committing the alleged first touching was Gardner because “I saw him when I woke up.” Asked if she was certain about the man’s identity in the second instance, the girl told prosecuting attorney Nicole Wittmann, “Yeah, I’m sure it was Mr. Gardner. I saw his face.”
The girl recalled the time of the first touching as being approximately 4:10 a.m. because of the display lights on a nearby cable television box.
She said that she did not repel the alleged attacks because “I felt really scared and … really nervous,” and because “I just didn’t know what I should do.” At one point, the girl explained, she went upstairs briefly, but didn’t seek out Gardner’s wife, Falls Church City Council member Robin Gardner, because “I didn’t know what to do. I planned to tell my dad or whoever was going to pick me up” later that morning.
On one occasion, the girl said, she attempted unsuccessfully to awaken Gardner’s daughter, who slept on the floor nearby, by whispering her name. In cross-examination by the defense, she stated that she did so while the assailant remained a few feet away.