Desoto County News

Crime lab progress continues for DeSoto County caseload

Photo: Hernando Mayor Chip and Christy Johnson, District Attorney Matthew Barton, and Hernando Main Street Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Sibonie Swatzyna, (Bob Bakken/

DeSoto County District Attorney Matthew Barton told the Hernando Main Street Chamber of Commerce’s “Grits and Government” gathering at the First Regional Library in Hernando that progress is continuing toward a crime lab for DeSoto County cases.  

Barton explained what the District Attorney’s office has been undertaking since he took office in January. Part of his presentation addressed Barton’s DeSoto County crime lab proposal. 

The District Attorney has proposed that DeSoto County and its communities combine to cover the cost of two forensic scientists at the Mississippi State Crime Lab facility in Batesville, scientists charged with addressing evidence gathering from only DeSoto County cases. The facility now works on cases from several Mississippi counties, which has caused a backlog in getting evidence back for prosecution.  

The crime lab is now about 18 months behind in its work, Barton said. He said the time frame could be improved to as little as two to four weeks if his plan is enacted.  

“All of the cities have engaged in negotiations to try to put together an agreement that makes sense for everybody,” Barton said. “We have a working document that I think is really close to being complete. So hopefully, the cities will be voting on it very, very soon. I think there’s an agreement in principle, it’s just the legalities of all of it.”

Barton is expecting for the agreement to be finalized and the two forensic scientists are hired to start work sometime this summer.  

In Barton’s comments at the Hernando chamber breakfast event, he explained how grand juries operate, what they do and when they meet.  He said 148 indictments came through the grand jury just last month alone.  

Barton explained his “Stop Memphis, Save DeSoto” campaign theme is in action, as he is making certain that Memphis criminals committing crimes in DeSoto County get the maximum allowable sentence, if convicted. He talked about the recently-introduced K9 Bruce, who will work with the office starting in September after training in Iowa. K9 Bruce will work in crisis response intervention, victim assistance, and community engagement. 

Barton also introduced the Public Corruption Unit within the office “to build trust in those who hold office and ensure the government is working for its intended purpose.” The division was involved in the recent arrest of former Southaven police officer Tony Herring, accused of stealing automobiles and aiding others in auto theft in his position as an officer.