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|Pathology|| Serial rapist|
|Family||Kimberly Gardner (wife)|
Michael Gardner is a murderer and serial rapist.
At some point in his life, Gardner began an affair with lawyer Erin Russ despite his current marriage. He would borrow her car and use it to seek out unsuspecting women to rape. When he found a woman to rape, he would use a cord to strangle them until they were unconscious, and while raping them, he would cut their breast. He raped four women this way, but the last one, named Carrie Huitt, was able to get a look at his face.
One night, while he and his wife Kimberly were playing poker with some friends, he is called downstairs to get food but is instead arrested by Detectives Benson, Stabler, and Fin. When the detectives tell him he is being arrested for rape, he punches Benson in the face but Stabler restrains him. When his wife comes out and sees him being arrested, she asks what he is being arrested for and is shocked when Fin tells her that Gardner raped four women. While being taken away, Gardner tells Kimberly to assign Russ as his lawyer. While being interrogated, Russ claims that the only reason his fingerprint was at the scene was because he walked his dog around the neighborhood, but A.D.A. Cabot also tells him about how Carrie Huitt was able to get a look at his face.
While being led to the lineup room, Gardner sees Benson talking the a rape counselor named Bethany Taylor. He is then positively identified by Huitt. After his victims get orders of protection, he goes to a coffee shop, which he knows is frequented by Huitt visits. She sees him and leaves, but because he was there before she was, he is not arrested. After Benson and Stabler were done visiting another one of his victims, Karen Leighton, they see Gardner walking his dog across the street from her house. They arrest him for violating the order of protection, but he claims he was only walking his dog.
Gardner faces Judge Arthur Cohen to answer for intimidating the women. Cabot argues that the coffee shop may have been a coincidence, but his actions indicated that he was intent on menacing his victims. Gardner decides to represent himself and argues that both situations were coincidences. He also notes that he did not have contact with either woman during each incident. The judge agrees and dismisses three of the rape charges as "facially insufficient". During the trial for his rapes, Gardner represents himself again while having Russ act as standby counsel. Gardner goes to the precinct to find Cabot and gives her a motion to try each rape separately, so the physical evidence from the fourth rape will not be introduced at the other three. Cabot cites precedent for combining the rapes, but Gardner cites another case supporting his position.
After Judge Lois Preston sides with the defense, Gardner moves to dismiss the charges concerning the first three rapes on the basis of lack of sufficient evidence, which is granted. While cross-examining Huitt and Benson, Gardner claims that Huitt didn't get a good look during her rape and claims that the only reason Huitt identified him was because she was told what he looked like by Benson and Bethany Taylor. However, after the judge hears what Huitt and Taylor talked about, she determines that the lineup was not contaminated. Gardner angrily objects, but Preston adjourns the trial for the day.
Knowing he would likely be convicted, Gardner goes and rapes a woman named Evelyn Sharpe, this time killing her so she would be unable to testify against him. During the struggle, he bites her arm and then cuts away the skin where he bit her, hoping to leave no evidence. He then goes into hiding at Russ's house. However, after withdrawing money, she finds the knife he used to attack his victims. When she confronts him about all of the evidence against him, he denies everything and she winds up killing him. (SVU: "Futility")
- Two unnamed women (both raped)
- Karen Leighton (raped)
- Carrie Huitt (raped)
- Detective Olivia Benson (assaulted)
- Evelyn Sharpe (raped and murdered)