DNA leads to suspect in robbery

Rose Copper County Editor

An armed robbery that occurred almost three years ago in Midland has been connected through a DNA match to an inmate in the Southeastern Correctional Institution at Lancaster in Fairfield County, according to the Clinton County Sheriff’s Office.

Steven H. Huffman, 22, whose last known address was 5003 State Route 124, Hillsboro, was indicted on a charge of aggravated robbery with a gun specification by a recent Clinton County grand jury, said Lt. Brian Edwards, chief detective with the sheriff’s office.

Aggravated robbery with a gun specification is a first-degree felony, Edwards said. Huffman also was indicted for petty theft, a first-degree misdemeanor.

Huffman is charged with the Jan. 6, 2007 armed robbery of the 1st Stop at the corner of U.S. 68 South and State Route 28 in Midland.

An unidentified man brandishing a gun went into the 1st Stop and told the clerk to put all the money from the register into a bag he provided, according to the sheriff’s office. The suspect then took other items and left the store.

A deputy went to the scene with his K-9 unit and conducted a track. “It ended up leading to an item (stolen from the store) the suspect dropped,” Edwards said.

The K-9 tracked the suspect to the back of the store, eastbound on State Route 28 to Frazier Road, then westbound to the intersection of State Route 28 and U.S. 68. “It appeared he got into a vehicle and left because there were tire tracks and the dog lost the scent (of suspect),” Edwards said.

The stolen item that was found during the track was sent to the Miami Valley Crime Lab in Dayton. The sheriff’s office requested a DNA test on the unidentified item. “The DNA then goes into a national data base,” Edwards said. “They enter the unknown sample and if there is no match, then it scans periodically.”

Edwards said when someone goes to prison a mouth swab sample is taken for DNA. “We finally got notified (of the match) on July 15, 2009,” Edwards said.

After a match is made by the DNA data base, Edwards said the investigating agency must then get another DNA sample. That test confirmed the match, he said.

Edwards took the case to the prosecuting attorney and it was presented to the grand jury which returned the indicted on Huffman.

Huffman entered the Southeastern Correctional Institution in March and is serving a two-year sentence. “He was originally charged with attempted murder in Highland County, but he pled to felonious assault,” Edwards said.

Sheriff Ralph D. Fizer Jr. said DNA testing somewhat changed the investigation process for law enforcement. “You have to look at crime scenes differently. We still look for fingerprints and shoe prints and you still collect that evidence, but then you look for DNA, things the suspect touched or a drop of blood.”

Edwards said as time goes on, DNA testing gets better and better. “In the mid 80s, you had to have a lot of blood,” he said. “All they need now is a spot that’s the size of a pin head. They can get DNA from any part of your body, whether it be blood, hair, dandruff, saliva, anything that has skin cells,” Edwards said. “Even if the suspect touches an item, we can get DNA from it. It is really better than a fingerprint.”

Edwards said Huffman can choose to face the Clinton County charges while he is still in prison. Otherwise, the sheriff’s office will put a holder on Huffman and when he is due to be released from prison, he will be picked up by the sheriff’s office.

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