If Nathaniel Lee Bennett has a lucky number, it is not 2,000.
The number has brought him the kind of statewide attention that nobody wants, especially someone trying to stay out of jail.
Bennett, 35, of 1323 O'Berry Road in Millwood, was the 2,000th hit on the Georgia Bureau of Investigation's DNA database, known as the Combined DNA Index System or CODIS.
Waycross police detectives arrested Bennett on an armed robbery charge Friday night after the DNA database linked him to blood found at the scene of a October 2008 holdup at a pizza restaurant, police Lt. Hilton Boyett said.
Arrested without incident at his home, Bennett remained in custody Tuesday at the Ware County jail, Boyett said.
The GBI said Bennett is accused of trying to rob the Papa John's Pizza in the 1000 block of Memorial Drive. In Georgia, a person can be charged with armed robbery even if the holdup attempt fails, as this one did.
Boyett said a man armed with a stick was trying to get into the cash register when an employee hit him in the head with a mop handle. Shedding blood, the man ran from the building. Detectives recovered blood at the scene and submitted it to the GBI for analysis and inclusion in its DNA database, he said.
Ware County court records show Bennett is on probation for two theft convictions in 2007, and felony possession of cocaine earlier this year.
All felons on probation in Georgia have their DNA recorded on the GBI database, which led to police identifying Bennett as the robbery suspect.
The DNA database has had 2,003 hits to previously unsolved cases. It has 214,375 profiles. Of those, 204,605 are from felons on probation, while 9,759 are evidence samples, records show.
It took a decade for the DNA database to reach its 1000th hit, which occurred in August 2008. It only took two more years to reach the 2,000 hit mark.
"The rapid increase in hits proves the value of DNA to law enforcement in solving violent crimes that otherwise may have gone unsolved. As the size of the DNA database increases, we expect and hope that this trend will continue," GBI Director Vernon Keenan said.
The GBI began DNA testing in 1991, and implemented the index in 1998. At that time, state law allowed only DNA samples from people imprisoned for sex crimes. During the next two years, that database led authorities to solve 13 rapes and other sexual crimes by linking evidence to an incarcerated sex offender, he said.
The program's current success stems from the General Assembly's decision in 2000 to expand the database law to include DNA from all felons in prison.
In the first year after expansion, more than 70 cases were solved. Since 2000, burglary, with 826 hits, and rape, with 735 cases, are the top categories of crimes solved through the database.
In 2007, the legislature expanded the DNA database law to include some felons on probation. Since then, the DNA database has connected probationers to 56 rapes, 64 burglaries, nine robberies, five auto thefts and two homicides, records show.
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