DNA from hamburger leads to conviction of robber

Posted at 12:59 PM, Jul 25, 2016
and last updated 2016-07-25 12:59:33-04

A Chicago man was sentenced to more than 72 years in prison, and a significant piece of evidence that led to the man’s arrest was DNA recovered from a partially eaten hamburger, according to a press release from the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

U.S. Attorney Patrick A. Miles, Jr. announced last week that Dominick T. Johnson, 34, of Chicago was sentenced to 72 years and eight months in prison.  Johnson was sentenced by U.S. District Judge Gordon J. Quist on Wednesday, and was convicted by a jury in January of several crimes, including conspiracy, bank robbery and firearms charges.

According to the press release from the attorney’s office of the Western District of Michigan, Johnson planned and served as the get-away driver for three completed bank robberies in the Kalamazoo-area. They included a May 2014 robbery of PNC Bank in Galesburg, July 2014 robbery of Comerica Bank in Comstock Twp., and a January 2015 robbery of Old National Bank in Oshtemo Twp.

Johnson’s half-brother, Nathan Benson, previously pled guilty for his role in the robberies, the press release states. In all the robberies, Benson would brandish a loaded firearm at bank employees, and in two of the robberies forced the employees into the bank’s vault.

One of the significant pieces of evidence that led to Johnson’s conviction was DNA taken from a partially eaten hamburger recovered from the bank robbers’ getaway path from the Old National Bank robbery, according to the release.  Johnson also listened in on two of the robberies by cell phone calls to Benson.

“The Court’s sentence is an unambiguous message: violent crime will not be tolerated in Western Michigan,” said U.S. Attorney Miles. “The defendant placed the lives of bank employees and customers in extraordinary danger by orchestrating these robberies, and now he will face the consequences of his decisions.”

There were also three other planned robberies that were unsuccessful. Two were disrupted by law enforcement and one was thwarted by a traffic accident, according to the release.

Benson was sentenced to 14 years in prison in March.

The investigation that led to the conviction of the robbers was led by the FBI and the Kalamazoo County Sheriff’s Office. Assisting with the investigation were he Michigan State Police, the Kalamazoo Department of Public Safety, the Baroda-Lake Township Police Department, the Galesburg Police Department, and the Van Buren County Prosecutor’s Office.