Advertisement
Brandon Weathers (Photo: Courtesy of the Nebraska Department of Corrections)

Brandon Weathers was sentenced to 100 to 160 years in prison two years ago for sexually assaulting and impregnating a 13-year-old girl. But like dozens of other inmates in the Nebraska prison system, Weathers simply refused to give a DNA swab sample required by law of convicted offenders.

Forensic Magazine and a local Nebraska newspaper both asked about the DNA collection of inmates in the state last spring. Weathers’ DNA was collected forcibly within weeks—and it “hit” four violent rapes in Omaha committed between 2002 and 2004, authorities announced last summer.

Now, a year after Weathers was charged, he has been convicted and sentenced last week—to yet another 160-year stint in prison, according to local media accounts.

Forensic Magazine’s look into uncollected DNA samples from convicted criminals behind bars started in Nevada. In that state, 8,000 inmates were never swabbed and placed into the federal Combined DNA Index System (CODIS), due to a loophole in the way the law was originally written, according to the magazine’s April story.

Forensic Magazine subsequently reported on seven states with various gaps in the “owed DNA.”

Nebraska’s problem was with inmates’ refusal to willingly comply with the existing law. The convicted criminals would object, and for years, no swabs were taken.

Forensic Magazine contacted Nebraska authorities including the attorney general’s office in April concerning retroactivity and prison collection of DNA.

On May 2, local newspaper The Omaha World-Herald published a story about the inmates defying the DNA collection efforts.

On May 12, the Nebraska Department of Correctional Services issued a formal written policy directing the forcible collection of DNA from the remaining inmates.

(Prison officials contend they began closing their “loophole” as early as February, before the written policy.)

“We changed our approach,” said Dawn-Renee Smith, a spokeswoman for the NDCS, explaining last year that the written policy “helped significantly.”

The 78 total inmates who had been withholding genetic samples were whittled down to a group of 13 as of June 2017, authorities said. One of the samples taken by force was from Weathers—and it matched the four rapes.

The Omaha World-Herald covered the Weathers trial from its beginning in March 2018, through the conviction in April and last week’s sentencing.

Weathers reportedly attacked the women in their homes at knifepoint while wearing a mask. But years later, he was convicted of the rape of a 13-year-old girl—the foster child living in his own home.

Advertisement
Advertisement