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Jury finds validated gang member of murder in Lexington County, suspect gets 45 years

Lexington, SC 03/05/2022 (Paul Kirby) – Earlier this week, a Lexington County jury found Christopher J. Brisbon, 31, of Columbia, guilty of Murder, Burglary – Second Degree (violent), and Possession of a Weapon during commission of a Violent Crime. He was sentenced to 45 years in prison following this conviction. Judge Eugene C. Griffith, Jr. imposed a sentence of 40 years on the murder charge and 5 years on the weapon charge, to be served consecutively. He was also sentenced to 15 years on the burglary charge. Brisbon is not eligible for parole under South Carolina law.

This trial began on February 22nd and concluded earlier this week when the jury returned its verdict in Lexington County General Sessions Court. At that time, Eleventh Circuit Solicitor Rick Hubbard stated, “We are grateful for the efforts of Sheriff Jay Koon and the entire Sheriff’s Department in their work on this case. The defendant was connected to gang activity in Richland County and crossed into Lexington County to commit this crime. We will pursue all measures to eliminate gang related violence in our community.”

Evidence presented at trial established that Brisbon was one of two masked men who entered the City Nightz Bar and Grill, located at 2112 Old Dunbar Road in the Cayce area of Lexington County, around 2:17 am on December 17, 2017. Several witnesses who were located in a back-office area of the club, along with the person Brisbon and his accomplice killed. That victim was Rodney Leak, age 41, who was employed as a manager at the club. He was in the same area standing behind a counter.

Testimony, along with evidence at the scene, established that the masked assailants were armed when they entered the club without consent from a side door located at the back porch. One of the men pointed a gun directly at Leak, who was behind that counter. Witnesses said that one of the masked men opened fire on Leak, shooting him multiple times. He was later pronounced dead at the scene. Both assailants fled the scene immediately after the shooting.

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The Lexington County Sheriff’s Department (LCSD) received the call at 12:20 a.m. and had deputies on the scene in minutes. They quickly notified investigators and the Crime Scene Investigation unit that responded and began to process the scene. During this time, those investigators discovered a .40 caliber Smith & Wesson magazine clip dropped on the floor by one of the assailants. The clip was collected as evidence and it and other items were taken to be processed by the S.C. Law Enforcement Division (SLED) crime lab. That lab determined that a fingerprint was present on the surface of the clip. After collecting that print, SLED identified the fingerprint as belonging to Christopher Brisbon, immediately making him a suspect in the case. Investigators also tracked Brisbon’s cell phone location using software. That clearly showed he'd been at the crime scene at the time of the murder.

Later, further analysis by SLED also confirmed the presence of Brisbon’s DNA was on the magazine clip. Christopher Brisbon was tracked down, arrested, and charged with murder on December 21, 2017.

Based on the law enforcement investigation, it is believed that Brisbon, along with an unidentified accomplice, intended to rob the victim of items located within the club. Brisbon never told officers who the second assailant was and that individual remains unidentified and at large.

This case was prosecuted by Eleventh Circuit Deputy Solicitor Suzanne Mayes and Senior Assistant Solicitor Rhonda Patterson of the Solicitor’s Office. The murder investigation was conducted by Det. Brannon Marthers of the LCSD Major Crimes Unit.

Family members of the victim, Rodney Leak, addressed the court during sentencing to convey the impact of his loss. Brisbon has been transported to the S.C. Department of Corrections to begin immediate service of the sentence.

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