Richland County Sheriff’s Department officials said for the first time in the country, testimony generated from DNA-identifying technology was used to put an attempted murder suspect behind bars.
Sheriff Leon Lott said sheriff’s department lab analysts that are qualified experts in RapidHit DNA testing provided testimony during a trial that took place earlier this month that resulted in a 26-year sentencing for 24-year-old Brandon Berry.
On July 29, 2014, deputies responded to a report of shots fired in the 1400 block of Oakcrest Drive off Trenholm Road. When deputies arrived, Lott said, they located a victim who told them that he was involved in an altercation with a suspect who pointed a gun at him and demanded money.
The victim then got into a physical altercation with the suspect, which is when the suspect fired multiple shots at the victim, striking him in the lower body, Lott said.
The DNA samples collected from the victim’s clothing were submitted for RapidHit DNA testing and produced the suspect’s identification, Brandon Berry, in just two hours.
Berry was taken into custody a short time later following a traffic stop, Lott said.
The Richland County Sheriff’s Department is the first sheriff’s department in the United States to use RapidHit DNA as a method to fight crime, Lott said.
“It allowed the investigator to focus on his suspect,” Lott said. “But more importantly, it gets the criminal off the streets quickly, which prohibits them from committing additional crimes.”