CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (AP) — A former detective testified Monday that a police bloodhound detected traces of a slain University of Virginia student inside the apartment and on the car door of the man charged in her killing.
According to media outlets, former Louisa County Sheriff’s Office Detective Buck Garner also said the bloodhound found 18-year-old Hannah Graham’s scent at an industrial site about a mile from downtown Charlottesville. He said the dog alerted him to a scent indicating “fear and adrenaline,” suggesting that Graham may have been attacked near a mulch pile at the site.
The new details emerged in a daylong pretrial hearing for Jesse Matthew Jr., 34, who is charged with capital murder in Graham’s 2014 disappearance and death. Prosecutors are seeking the death penalty.
Matthew also faces first-degree murder charges in the 2009 death of 20-year-old Virginia Tech student Morgan Harrington. He is serving a life prison term for a 2005 attempted murder and sexual assault in northern Virginia.
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Garner testified at length Monday about his involvement in the early days of the Graham investigation working with a 7-year-old bloodhound named Shaker.
He described following Shaker as the dog traced Graham’s scent to Charlottesville’s downtown, where she was last seen. Surveillance video from businesses showed Graham walking alongside Matthew. Her remains were found six weeks later on an abandoned property in Albemarle County, about 12 miles from campus.
Garner testified that Shaker at one point traced a long route east from the Downtown Mall to the industrial site. During a subsequent search, Garner said, Shaker detected Graham’s scent on the passenger door of Matthew’s vehicle, in the doorway to his home and near a dumpster at his apartment complex. Garner said the dog did not find Graham’s scent near other apartments.
The bloodhound’s work provided the basis for police to obtain a search warrant for Matthew’s apartment and vehicle. Defense attorney Doug Ramseur unsuccessfully challenged the search warrant in court, arguing that the search dog’s findings were inconsistent with witness accounts and video surveillance evidence, that detectives might have misled a magistrate to obtain the warrant and that there was not probable cause for police to conduct those searches.
Albemarle County Circuit Judge Cheryl Higgins ruled there were no “instances of deliberate misstatements and reckless disregard” of the truth in the affidavit supporting the search warrant and, although the dog’s findings may have had inconsistencies, there were other arguments in the six-page affidavit that could constitute probable cause.
She read some of those points out loud: Witness statements put Graham and Matthew together on the night of her disappearance, at least one witness said she saw the two go to a bar on the Downtown Mall, and Matthew bought them each drinks using his debit card.
This story has been corrected to show that the former detective’s last name is Garner.