COLFAX — Two forensic experts took the witness stand Tuesday to discuss their opposing conclusions about DNA evidence that could link a former Pullman Police Department sergeant to an alleged crime against a Washington State University student.

As the trial for Dan Hargraves continues into its second week in Whitman County Superior Court in Colfax, two forensic experts gave their testimony about a key piece of evidence in the case. Hargraves is accused of sexually assaulting an intoxicated 18-year-old WSU freshman in the early hours of March 31, 2018. He has been charged with custodial sexual misconduct.

A Washington State Patrol investigation allegedly found sperm on the sleeve of the body suit the woman was wearing the night of the alleged incident. That sperm cell was an 83-percent match to Hargraves, according to the investigation.

The forensic DNA analyst for the Washington State Patrol, Ethan Smith, gave his testimony Tuesday and said while there were traces of DNA from five people found on her clothes, a sperm cell he identified on the sleeve matched with Hargraves’ DNA.

A Boise State University professor, Greg Hampikian, was hired by the defense to analyze the WSP’s findings. Hampikian, a professor in the department of biological sciences, studies DNA evidence in criminal cases around the country.

He testified that there is too little evidence to conclude if the cell the WSP forensics expert found is a sperm cell at all.

“Is it definitely a sperm cell? No, not in my mind,” Hampikian said.

DNA can be transferred through a variety of other ways, such as through skin cells or saliva, he said.

During the proceedings Tuesday, defense attorney Roger Sandberg made a motion to dismiss the sexual misconduct charge given that, he claimed, there is not enough evidence sexual contact occurred between Hargraves and the woman. Libey dismissed the motion.

The trial continues today at 9 a.m. at Whitman County Superior Court in Colfax.


Anthony Kuipers can be reached at (208) 883-4640, or by email to akuipers@dnews.com.

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