A Pennsylvania genetic scientist testified today that DNA samples of two young girls’ clothing showed very high likelihoods of matching the samples taken from Michael Gardner, a Falls Church resident on trial at Arlington Circuit Court on four felony counts of aggravated sexual battery and penetration.
A 10-year-old girl told the court later in the day that Gardner sexually assaulted her when she visited the defendant’s daughter for an overnight stay last June 16. She was the third child to identify the defendant since the trial began earlier this week. A different 10-year-old girl had testified Tuesday that Gardner fondled and penetrated her genitals when she visited for a group birthday sleepover party on June 17-18. An 11-year-old girl had testified Wednesday that Gardner fondled her at the same sleepover party.
The prosecution rested its case shortly before 4 p.m., and Judge Benjamin Kendrick dismissed the jury for the night. The defense will present its case Friday at 9:30 a.m., and the case could go to the jury for deliberation by Monday.
In his court appearance today, Mark Perlin, chief scientific officer for the Pittsburgh-based Cybergenetics, stated that a DNA match between samples taken from Gardner and from one girl’s underpants is 20.7 quadrillion times more probable than a match involving the underwear and an unrelated Caucasian sample; 36.6 quadrillion times more probable than a match with an unrelated African-American; and 212 quadrillion times more probable than a match with an unrelated Hispanic. A quadrillion is enumerated as 1,000,000,000,000,000.
A match between DNA samples taken from another girl’s pajama bottoms and from Gardner is 3.86 thousand times more probable than it is with an unrelated Caucasian person, Perlin stated.
With approximately six billion people alive today, the numbers constitute “a statement” about the chances of the clothing’s DNA sample matching DNA from anyone else, Perlin said.
Today’s witness testified to being picked up by her mother the morning of June 17 but not relating the incident to her or to anyone. The girl returned to the Gardner home later that day for the group slumber party. During cross-examination by Gardner’s defense attorney, Peter Greenspun, the girl confirmed that she did not discuss the alleged attack on her until being interviewed five days later by Falls Church Police Department detective Sonia Richardson.
Greenspun raised several inconsistencies in the girl’s description of the attack, including her waiting until last week to mention to anyone that Gardner also had allegedly caressed her back and buttocks. Greenspun further noted her telling Richardson during the June meeting that the attack lasted 45 minutes, while stating in court that it lasted a few minutes.
Greenspun asked the witness whether she had spoken aloud to herself — while alone after Richardson left the police station’s interview room — words of pride in having “helped solve the case.” She agreed that she had done so.
After the jury exited for the night, Greenspun remarked of her testimony that “the allegations there are just inherently incredible.”
Kendrick denied several motions that Greesnpun presented at that point, including to decouple the trial on the four counts into separate trials regarding the June 16 and the June 18 alleged incidents, and to bring the jury to the rooms in question at the Gardner home so that they could better comprehend the complete darkness present during the nights in question that would have prevented the girls from identifying the defendant as their attacker.
Greenspun had moved shortly before a lunch break to strike Perlin’s testimony after the scientist revealed that the samples had reached him from the Virginia Department of Forensic Science’s Richmond headquarters rather than directly from the Manassas branch laboratory where the samples were analyzed. Greenspun argued that “a significant question” existed about the proper “chain of custody” before the samples reached the witness.
A Manassas forensic scientist had testified Wednesday afternoon to having analyzed the samples provided to her by the Falls Church Police Department.