Over prosecutor’s objection, defendant to be released


Christopher L. Hargraves

GREENFIELD — A county man who was once facing a $100,000 cash bond on felony rape charges was set to be let out of jail following a mistrial in his case.

Christopher L. Hargraves was to to be released and placed on home detention as soon Tuesday, Dec. 14 after a bail hearing in Hancock County Circuit Court.

Judge Scott Sirk made the decision on Monday, Dec. 13, over the strenuous objection of the Hancock County chief deputy prosecutor, Aimee Herring.

“The state presented evidence from the victim herself indicating great fear of the defendant, and it didn’t matter,” Herring said. “The defendant is not just a safety risk, but is also a flight risk.”

During the bail hearing, Herring brought up the fact Hargraves, 19, of McCordsville, fled the county when he found out that he was going to be charged with rape and other felony crimes from an incident with a teenage girl at his home in September of 2020.

Prosecutor Brent Eaton said he was outraged by the decision to release an inmate who is still facing two counts of Level 1 felony rape and other felony confinement and intimidation charges.

“From the time that this defendant was picked up he had a cash bond of $100,000, and since that time, we have objected every single time to the motion to try and have the bond be lower,” Eaton said. “The court has slowly but surely whittled it down to where now he is released on his own recognizance on home detention with the hopes he will not offend or commit further crimes.”

Hargraves’ attorney, Jeffrey McClarnon, argued that his client should be allowed to go home pending another trial after a jury could not reach a verdict on the six serious felony charges he was facing. Sirk declared a mistrial on those charges after a four-day trial that ended Dec. 3.

The jury convicted Hargraves of two misdemeanor and one Level 6 felony gun and drug charges.

Herring and Eaton noted after Monday’s hearing that the six remaining charges against Hargraves, including the two Level 1 felony rape counts, are still pending against him and have not been dropped since the mistrial.

A status conference is slated for Thursday, Dec. 16, during which prosecutors hope a new pre-trial and trial date will be set. In the meantime, McClarnon said Hargraves will be staying with a relative at a undisclosed residence outside of Hancock County and he’s hoping the remaining charges will be dropped against his client.

“I truly believe he is innocent,” McClarnon said.

McClarnon noted his client was not found guilty on any of the more serious felony charges. That, and the fact Hargraves had been in jail since February, were justification enough to let his client out.

“He’s still not guilty of those charges,” McClarnon said. “He should be presumed innocent.”

McClarnon also argued his client is not a flight risk and didn’t flee arrest. Hargraves, he said, was staying nearby in Marion County because he was scared and didn’t have an attorney at the time.

Hargraves was not arrested for nearly five months after a warrant was issued. Deputies from the Hancock County Sheriff’s Department were assisted by the U.S. Marshals Service in finding Hargraves in February and bringing him back to the county to face the charges against him.

For Eaton, the decision by the court to let Hargraves out creates a major issue for crime victims in the future who are seeking justice.

“It’s heartbreaking for us to have a victim go into court on a Level 1 case and express concern for their safety after testifying on more than one occasion and for the court to release the person without any bond,” Eaton said. “Our job just became a whole lot harder with that decision.”

Eaton noted there are dozens of inmates in the county jail facing lesser charges than a Level 1 felony who will remain behind bars. Prosecutors presented testimony from the head of Hancock County Community Corrections indicating Hargraves was not an appropriate candidate for the home detention program.

Hargraves was still listed as an inmate in the county jail late Tuesday. McClarnon noted it may take a few days for officials to checkout where Hargraves will be staying before he is officially released.