DNA, drugs and body cams: York man guilty of drug trafficking; first trial hung jury

A York man will spend 13 years in prison after he was convicted in a second trial that featured DNA after a first trial ended with a hung jury.

The case included evidence of Quincy Lakeith Hemphill’s DNA found on a bag of drugs, prosecutors said.

A jury in York late Friday afternoon convicted Hemphill, 42, of trafficking cocaine second offense, trafficking crack cocaine, possession of marijuana with intent to distribute, possession of meth with intent to distribute, and possession of a weapon during a violent crime, court records show. The trial lasted four days.

Hemphill was arrested on Feb. 24, 2016, said Blaine Pleming, 16th Circuit assistant solicitor. York County Mutijurisdictional Drug Enforcement Unit agents served a search warrant on Hemphill at his Liberty Hill Road home after a confidential informant bought drugs from the home days before, Pleming said.

Hemphill admitted to police there were drugs and a gun in the house, Pleming said. The admission was allowed into evidence and presented during the trial, Pleming said.

Officers seized cash, drugs and the weapon that was found to have been stolen, Pleming said.

Hemphill’s defense said during trial that drug agents did not have body cameras that would have showed the search and recovery of the items.

Since the 2016 case, drug agents have been equipped with body cameras that are used during the execution of search warrants, Pleming said.

A first trial in November 2016 ended with a jury deadlocked and unable to reach a verdict, court records show.

After the first trial, investigators asked that the bags seized during the arrest be tested for DNA. Hemphill’s DNA was matched on the bag that had more than 50 grams of cocaine, Pleming said.

The chance that the DNA belonged to someone else other than Hemphill was one in 1.9 trillion, Pleming said.

The jury deliberated about three hours then returned guilty verdicts on all charges against Hemphill.

Hemphill faced as much 30 years in prison on the trafficking cocaine charge under South Carolina law, plus more potential time for the other convictions.

Hemphill’s prior criminal record includes serving seven years in prison after 2007 convictions for distribution of crack cocaine in 2007.

York County Circuit Court Judge Bill McKinnon sentenced Hemphill to 13 years on all five convictions.

Efforts to reach Darren Haley, Hemphill’s lawyer, were unsuccessful.

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Andrew Dys covers breaking news and public safety for The Herald, where he has been a reporter and columnist since 2000. He has won 51 South Carolina Press Association awards for his coverage of crime, race, justice, and people. He is author of the book “Slice of Dys” and his work is in the U.S. Library of Congress.