Crime & Courts

Herring trial: Closing arguments to begin at 1 p.m.

A pharmacy expert testified this morning that H. Dewain Herring was not drugged the night he shot and killed John H. Johnson Jr. at Chastity’s Gold Club.

Prosecutors called the witness, Demi Garvin, to refute Herring’s claim that he was under the influence of a “date rape drug” the night of the January 2006 shooting. Herring has argued that someone put a drug in his drink at the strip club and that’s why he has no memory of the shooting, except for a vague memory of a gun going off somewhere.

Jurors will have the final say after attorneys give their closing arguments, which are scheduled for 1 p.m. today. Judge G. Thomas Cooper is expected to tell jurors that they can consider involuntary intoxication in their deliberations. If they find that Herring proved he was involuntarily intoxicated, they must find him not guilty.

Garvin, who works for the Richland County Sheriff’s Department’s forensic lab, testified that Herring showed “purposeful behavior” that night, which she said is not consistent with being under the influence of the various so-called “date rape drugs,” including Rohypnol and Gamma Butyrolactone, or GHB. Instead, she said, Herring’s behavior inside the club — including stripping himself naked — was evidence that he had been drinking too much.

Herring gave statements to police that he had nine beers that day while playing golf and several scotch and sodas afterward. He has since backtracked on those statements, telling jurors last week that he only had “four or five” beers while on the golf course.

Herring’s attorney, Dick Harpootlian, responded by throwing two studies at Garvin from respected research journals. The articles said it is possible for people to commit violent acts — including murder — and have no memory of it while under the influence of the date rape drug.

Prosecutors pointed out that one of the studies, conducted in Sweden in 1992, was only on those who had abused the drug and were already in prison for their crimes.

Prosecutors also called Joye Cameron, a Richland County paramedic who treated Herring the night of the shooting after Herring was shot by a Richland County sheriff’s deputy. Cameron testified that although Herring was rude, he knew where he was and did not appear intoxicated.

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