Deadlocked jury forces mistrial in case of Pullman Police sergeant accused of sexual misconduct
COLFAX, Wash. — A deadlocked jury made a judge to declare a mistrial for a former Pullman Police sergeant accused of forcing himself on a Washington State University freshman last year.
After 11 hours of deliberation this week, all 12 jurors told the judge Thursday there was no chance they would reach a verdict within a reasonable time.
Former Pullman Police sergeant Dan Hargraves is accused of demanding and receiving oral sex from a Washington State University freshman in exchange for not arresting her last March. Hargraves was arrested for first degree custodial sexual misconduct last October when investigators said they found sperm matching his DNA on the student’s sleeve.
Some jurors spoke with 4 News Now after Thursday’s ruling. They said during Wednesday’s initial deliberation following five days of testimony, the jury was split right down the middle, but one juror flipped Thursday, tipping the scales to a 7-5 guilty verdict.
Jurors said the biggest factor in the deadlock was that there was no direct evidence presented which placed Hargraves and the student in his patrol car for a second time that night — when the student said he picked her up outside her dorm, pulled over, then forced her to perform oral sex on him after she said she would do ‘anything’ to not get arrested.
One juror told 4 News Now the DNA evidence was an ‘undeniable’ factor for some, while others were swayed when the woman said she couldn’t remember some parts of her night because she had been drinking.
The juror who flipped to guilty said they did so because Hargraves broke department policy by not turning on his body camera and tracking the mileage of his patrol that night. It was revealed in court Wednesday that Hargraves did not respond to seven calls for service after his first meeting with the student.
Hargraves denied the accusations against him Wednesday when he took the stand.
“I saw her walking and she looked like she was pretty drunk and I wanted to go check on her, make sure she was okay,” Hargraves said on the stand. “She was crying and saying something about her parents getting her in trouble. She said where she was going, but I really don’t remember particulars.”
Hargraves said he gave her a warning for drinking when he dropped her off at her dorm. He said he had a ‘bad habit’ of not turning his body camera on, and failed to do so when he picked up the student that night.
“I didn’t see a safety issue. I wasn’t worried she was gonna attack me or beat me up,” Hargraves testified. “It was just a social contact. I really didn’t see a need to turn it on. Again, in hindsight I probably should’ve.”
The young woman was approached again that night by a WSU Police sergeant. According to court documents, Hargraves heard the student’s name on the police radio and told the WSU officer he had contacted her earlier in the night.
Court documents stated Hargraves told the woman, “You disobeyed me. I told you not to leave your dorm before. Now, I have to take you to the station because you didn’t obey my orders.”
Hargraves reportedly put her in the back seat of her patrol car while she pleaded with him, saying she would do anything to avoid getting arrested. According to court documents, Hargraves took the victim to the Reaney Park area, then pulled down his pants before she performed oral sex on him.
A forensic DNA analyst testified Tuesday 83% of the sperm fraction found on the student’s shirt matched Hargraves’ DNA. Hargraves said Wednesday he didn’t know why his DNA would show up on the woman’s shirt.
Hargraves testified he never saw the victim after their first interaction the night of the alleged incident and said he was ‘shocked’ to learn of the allegations against him.
“I have never seen her again until she was up here on the witness stand,” he said in his testimony.
Whitman County Prosecutor Denis Tracy asked Hargraves if he had ever taken time to retrace his steps that night in an effort to prove his innocence when he learned of the accusations.
“When I was told about the accusation, I started to recollect the event, but I didn’t try and remember where I was before and after for the next four hours,” Hargraves said, before adding there was nothing out of the ordinary during that shift.
Hargraves denied ever having the student perform oral sex on him before the state and the defense gave their closing arguments to the jury, which consists of 9 women and 3 men.
Tracy walked through a timeline of the night in question using cell phone records from the alleged victim. He told the jury the woman had been texting and calling friends throughout the night until there was a gap when she didn’t respond.
Tracy said the student had gaps in her memory because she is diabetic and had been drinking. He told the jury she has reason to believe she performed oral sex on him, because she remembers kneeling on the grass and hearing Hargraves unbuckle his pants.
Defense attorney Roger Sandberg said the woman was ‘out of it’ and may have made the story up in an effort to avoid getting in trouble with her parents for running into the police — he believes the story snowballed from there. Sandberg asked the jury if they would be comfortable trusting the student’s memory from that night and convicting his client.
“The state would to have a smoking gun video that shows Mr. Hargraves or puts them in the exact same proximity that shows that this happened and we, Mr. Hargraves, would love to have some smoking gun video that shows her walking across campus to Rogers Hall,” Sandberg said during closing arguments Wednesday. “We don’t know what happened. We don’t know what she did between that time. We can’t prove it. We don’t have to prove it.”
Hargraves’ defense had no comment on Thursday’s ruling, as they are still waiting to learn if Tracy will retry this case. Tracy told 4 News Now he plans to make that decision in the next week.
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