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Eyewitness accounts trump DNA in Burger King armed robbery case

Updated: Tuesday, May 13 2014, 05:47 PM EDT

WTOV9.com
JEFFERSON COUNTY, Ohio –Eyewitness accounts trumped DNA on Tuesday in Jefferson County Court in a case involving a man accused of robbery and assault at the Wintersville Burger King in February.
In the end, their descriptions spelled doom for 19-year-old Brett Isler, who was convicted despite DNA evidence from the crime scene that didn’t match his.
Employee and witness Kelly Brennan said she was taking out the trash that night when a man dressed in black pulled out a gun and started hitting her and demanding money.
“He grabs me and pushes me in the building and my coworker is around the wall dumping something into a trash can,” she said. “When we came around the wall, he grabbed the gun and hit (a co-worker) on the side of the face. He pushed me in the office and said (to a co-worker) ‘get in the office with her.’ He said ‘give me the money’ and handed me like a Kroger bag, and I put the money in it and I when looked at him, I looked in his eyes and I knew who he was."
Isler is a former employee at the Burger King who was fired months before the incident.
Fellow eyewitness Robert Lee Phillipson, Sr. was equally positive who he saw.
He said there was no question in his mind it was Isler.
Four Wintersville Police Officers testified, along with a forensic scientist from Ohio's Bureau of Criminal Investigation.
Two live rounds and one casing were found at the Burger King but came back with someone else's DNA on them.
“The firm evidence, the unique evidence that we have in this case is the evidence that identified or excludes someone is the DNA,” Defense Attorney Aaron Miller said. “It’s not him."
Prosecuting Attorney George Sarap said the gun itself was never found and no one knows if it was stolen, but he wanted to be clear about why the DNA testing was done.
"You (the jurors) were just told that they sent the shells out for testing because someone didn’t believe Kelly Brennan,” Sarap said. “That's misleading. I want you to think about that before you go back there."
So the question now is how much jail time will Isler serve?
His sentence for robbery and assault is on hold for now because he's being arraigned Wednesday for three different break-ins.
Police said those happened days before the Burger King robbery.


Eyewitness accounts trump DNA in Burger King armed robbery case


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