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story.lead_photo.caption Grant Matthew Hardin

BENTONVILLE — Defense attorneys want to delay a rape suspect’s December trial to gather more information on DNA testing and possible alibi evidence in the 1997 attack of a Rogers school teacher.

Grant Hardin, 49, a former Gateway police chief, is charged with three counts of rape. He has pleaded innocent.

He was arrested in February in connection with the 1997 rape of the teacher at Frank Tillery Elementary School.

Hardin’s jury trial is scheduled to begin on Dec. 11 and his attorneys filed a motion earlier this week requesting the delay.

The motion claims the defense needs more time to obtain relevant information and documentation on the DNA testing conducted in the case. The defense also needs information concerning procedures the Arkansas Crime Laboratory has used for the last 21 years, according to court documents.

According to the motion, the defense’s DNA expert is also unavailable Dec. 11-13.

The motion also states Hardin’s attorneys need more time to obtain potential alibi witnesses or documentation from companies that have dissolved or moved since November 1997, according to court documents.

Prosecutors object to the delay and claim the state Crime Laboratory’s entire case file has been turned over to Hardin’s attorneys. Their response claims the defense has not shown good cause to delay the trial and there is a strong public interest in the prompt disposition of the case, according to court documents.

Hardin’s next court appearance is scheduled for Nov. 13.

Rogers Police Chief Hayes Minor said DNA from the rape linked Hardin to the case.

The teacher was at the school Sunday, Nov. 9, 1997, preparing for the week’s classes while a church service was underway in the cafeteria. About 11:30 a.m., the teacher went to use the restroom.

A man wearing a knit stocking cap and sunglasses brandished a pistol, raped the teacher and fled, according to a news release.

Rogers police obtained a warrant in 2003 for a “John Doe” suspect in the case. A John Doe warrant is an arrest warrant for an individual whose name isn’t known. The statute of limitation for rape in Arkansas is six years, and the warrant was filed before time expired.

Hardin is serving a 30-year prison sentence for killing James Appleton in 2017.

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