DNA analysts take stand for former police sergeant’s sexual misconduct trial

DNA evidence was at the center of the Whitman County Courthouse Tuesday, as two forensic analysts took the stand in former Pullman Police sergeant Dan Hargraves’ sexual misconduct trial.

Hargraves is accused of forcing a WSU freshman to perform oral sex on him when she thought she was being arrested last March. Investigators say bodily fluids matching Hargraves’ DNA found on the student’s sleeve led to his arrest.

Ethan Smith, a forensic DNA analyst with the Washington State Patrol Crime Lab, told the court he tested the evidence last year and found Hargraves’ semen on the sleeve of the student’s bodysuit. Smith said Hargraves’ DNA was mixed with two other men’s, but said Hargraves’ DNA took up 83% of the sample. Smith told the jury about the finding and used a microscope slide of the semen sample as evidence.

The defense’s expert analyst, Greg Hampikian, said the microscope slide was missing key markers for semen.

“There are a lot of things that can fool you — so, is this definitely not a sperm? No, I can’t say it’s definitely not a sperm cell,” he said. “I’d say that it’s missing any of the hallmarks that I would give certainty to.”

The state argued Hampikian never examined the slide himself and only saw a photo of it in court, suggesting it may have clouded his judgment.

The defense even moved to dismiss Tuesday, saying the alleged victim does not remember the sexual act and Hargraves never had sex with her, but the judge denied the motion.

The state and defense were set to give their closing arguments Tuesday, but Hampikian and Smith were on the stand for a combined seven hours, so statements were pushed back to Wednesday. At least one more witness will be questioned Wednesday before the state and defense give their closing arguments. The jury will then deliberate before making a decision.