by: Tenikka Smith Updated:
CHARLOTTE, N.C. - One year ago Wednesday, the Charlotte City Council awarded Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department a nearly half-million-dollar grant to help the department's Sex Assault Cold Case Unit.
The money was used to hire a dedicated prosecutor and DNA analyst.
Detective Troy Armstrong said the unit has had success since it started in 2006, but two critical resources were needed to help the unit put an extra emphasis on examining DNA evidence and pushing cases through the courts.
"We were still competing with other units'current active cases that sometimes took precedent over these older cases," Armstrong said.
So one year ago, the unit secured a $440,000 federal grant to hire a prosecutor and a DNA analyst. Barry Cook, a retired veteran of the Mecklenburg County District Attorney's office, started last year.
After an extensive nationwide search, Erika Everhart joined the team a couple of months ago to examine DNA evidence.
Armstrong said the department is the only one he knows of in the nation that has a dedicated prosecutor and DNA analyst on its team.
In the last year, the unit has solved some major cases including the arrest of the man suspected of being the "Ski Mask Rapist." Jerry Lee Brooks is charged with a series of rapes in 1979.
Also, Roger Honeycutt was arrested on suspicion of raping a woman in her Sharon Amity Road home in 1981.
Police said DNA evidence linked Juan Taylor to a 1991 kidnapping and rape case, and Bryan Davis was charged with raping a woman walking along Interstate 77 in 1996.
Armstrong said he hopes the unit will continue to grow, and the possibilities of what they will be able to uncover are endless.
"We do this to give someone closure, if not necessarily to find perpetrator, to let people know they are not forgotten," he said.
Since 2006, Armstrong said CMPD's Sex Assault Cold Case Unit reviewed more than 1,500 cases, cleared more than 150 with 50 of those by arrest. The sentences handed down total more than 900 years in prison.