Editor’s Note: Some of the details or sound bytes you’ll hear in this story are graphic.
HUNTINGTON, WV (WOWK) — The third day of witness testimony commenced this morning in the double sexual assault trial involving former Marshall student Chase Hardin. The assaults are alleged to have taken place in the fall 2018.
Court was in session by 9:05 a.m. Thursday beginning with testimony from Sgt. Matthew Null. He is the detective who took the first accuser’s statement, along with the statements of witnesses who testified Wednesday.
Null was a supervisor in the Family Crimes Unit in November 2018 when the alleged victim reported the assault. He has been with the Huntington Police Department in various capacities for 22 years, according to his testimony.
The prosecution aimed to corroborate the chain of events as told to Null by the alleged victim herself and the witnesses. The defense questioned Null as to his tactics of the collection of Snapchat messages between the victim and Chase Hardin. Null maintained his actions followed protocol for investigations into sexual assault crimes.
Null also testified Hardin indicated to him he believed the alleged victim was simply suffering from “buyer’s remorse.” He also said Hardin thought the alleged victim had filed the report as a means of revenge after he got back together with his on-and-off girlfriend shortly after the alleged assault.
The defense maintained the defendant was not on trial for “being a bad boyfriend.”
The fifth witness, Shana Thompson, was called via video chat due to exposure to the COVID-19. A Title IX investigator for Marshall University, Thompson testified about her interview with Hardin, in which he maintained the alleged assault did not actually happen as the alleged victim described. Thompson’s testimony was one of the few which ran counter to the prevailing narrative the victim had been anally raped.
The court recessed for lunch and resumes again 12:45 p.m.
The afternoon session began with the testimony of the second alleged victim. She alleges Hardin physically overpowered her while watching a movie in Sept. 2018, a month before the alleged attack on the first victim.
The defense continues to maintain there are no pictures of what the alleged victims claim, and questioned the context of text messages between Hardin and both alleged victims. They are trying to assert the sex was consensual, despite testimony to the contrary.
Two roommates of the second alleged victim also testified to what they say and heard of the alleged attack in and in the following days from the accuser. Both testified to seeing blood on the bed where the assault is said to have occurred, and on the carpet adjacent.
The witnesses claimed to have taken photos using Snapchat, but had since deleted them. The second alleged victim says she tried to normalize the event and convince herself it wasn’t rape.
However, after reading a blog post written by the first alleged victim on her experience, the second alleged victim said she recognized that it was Hardin whom the first alleged victim was writing about.
The two corresponded about their experiences, and the first alleged victim convinced the second alleged victim to report what had happened to her to the police. The second alleged victim reported the assault to police officers on May 28, 2019.
The judge hearing the case said it should wrap up tomorrow. The state has one more witness and the defense said they are introducing five. It is still unclear whether Chase Hardin himself will testify tomorrow.