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Man convicted in attempted rape case argues for new trial
Brandon Nix
Brandon Nix

A Gainesville man sentenced to 50 years in prison for attempted rape and kidnapping argued for a new trial for issues related to DNA evidence and a “prejudicial” photograph shown to the jury.

Brandon Scott Nix was found guilty in January 2016 by a jury in the November 2014 incident, where authorities said he kidnapped a 17-year-old girl jogging on Barrett Road.

In the brief supporting his motion, Nix and attorney Ashleigh Merchant argue there were issues with the chain of custody regarding DNA evidence.

The brief alluded to an incorrect date on DNA swabs, issues with seals at the Georgia Bureau of Investigation lab and reports not made regarding chain of custody.

“Because the chain of custody on the swabs taken from the alleged victim did not meet … the appropriate chain of custody, and … there is reason to believe based on the testimony outlined above that this sample might have been switched inadvertently with another sample,” the brief reads.

The Hall County District Attorney’s Office, through Assistant District Attorney Jennifer Bagwell, filed a response to the motion March 2, claiming the defense at trial did not object to the DNA evidence presented.

Bagwell wrote that quality control measures were taken and that were no issues regarding tampering with evidence.

“Based upon the foregoing evidence, the state met its burden of establishing reasonable assurance of the identity of the evidence,” Bagwell wrote.

Merchant also argued that a photograph shown to the jury of Nix wearing a hooded sweatshirt with the image of a Ku Klux Klan klansman was prejudicial.

The victim testified she saw the clothing in Nix’s bedroom.

The prosecution argued it was relevant in identifying Nix as the alleged perpetrator and for the “victim’s state of mind of fear and intimidation.”

Merchant wrote it is “inconceivable that this relevance was not substantially outweighed by the prejudicial effect of the jury seeing the defendant in a KKK hoodie sweatshirt.”

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