Jury can’t reach verdict on rape charges

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GREENFIELD — Dressed in a black shirt, light-colored slacks and a blue-and-black striped tie, Christopher L. Hargraves reached over and hugged his attorney and thanked him.

Moments before, Hargraves, 19, McCordsville, listened as Judge Scott Sirk read a jury’s decision that they could not reach a verdict on six of the major felony charges against him, including two Level 1 felony counts of rape, which could have sent him to prison for decades.

The jury of six women and six men deliberated for nearly six hours Friday and told the bailiff in Hancock County Circuit Court around 6 p.m. they had reached a verdict. However, when the judge began reading the verdict, he noted they had only reached a conclusion on three of the nine crimes.

The jury found Hargraves guilty of possession of marijuana, a Class B misdemeanor; carrying a handgun without a licence, a Class A misdemeanor; and pointing a firearm at another, a Level 6 felony.

The other six counts were considered a mistrial.

Chief deputy prosecutor Aimee Herring immediately asked the court for a status conference set for Dec. 16 and said after the trial she would determine then if the state would refile the other felony charges of rape, intimidation and confinement.

Herring said she didn’t want to comment on the case because too many charges are still pending.

Prosecutor Brent Eaton, however, said he was surprised that the court allowed deliberations to end.

“Really, I’ve never seen a mistrial this early,” Eaton said.

Before Sirk released the jury, he asked each juror whether they could reach a verdict on the other charges if he gave them more time. They all said no.

McClarnon asked the judge to release Hargraves Friday night, but Sirk said that would be discussed at a bail hearing slated for Monday, Dec. 6.

“I’m just glad his life is not over right now, tonight,” McClarnon said, before noting he’d be more than happy to see the other charges prosecuted again because he believes in his client’s innocence.

Hargraves has been in the county jail since he was arrested 10 months ago.

Hargraves was accused of raping a 17-year-old girl in September 2020 at his home. The girl testified Hargraves pointed a gun at her and demanded they have sex. When she refused, she testified, Hargraves forced himself on her.

“He knew what he was doing when he did it,” Herring told the jury in her closing arguments. “The evidence shows he had marijuana, he had a gun and he had an encounter with the victim.”

She asked the jury to consider what was the most reasonable explanation of what happened that night between Hargraves and the young woman.

McClarnon argued that the girl’s story contained inconsistencies and that the investigation was too one-sided against his client. He asked the jury during his closing arguments to evaluate the credibility of the two conflicting stories.

“They closed the case on him because at first he did lie,” McClarnon said. “But, he lied because he was an 18-year-old kid who was scared.”

He added: “This thing is riddled with reasonable doubt. There are holes in the case a mile wide.”