Miami, FL – Nearly two and a half years after a Crown Heights rabbi was shot to death as he walked to a North Miami Beach synagogue, the investigation is back to square one after all charges were dropped against a teen who had been arrested for his murder 13 months ago..
As previously reported on VIN News (http://bit.ly/2iyTZwB), Deandre Charles was apprehended by police and charged in the murder of 60 year old Rabbi Joseph Raksin. Charles was 14 years old at the time of the shooting and insisted that he had been home when the incident occurred.
Legal papers filed today in Miami that were obtained by ABC News 10 said that the case against Charles had been built primarily on DNA evidence taken from the murder weapon, further bolstered by evidence that a cell phone belonging to Charles was found to be near the cell phone tower closest to the murder scene at the time of the fatal shooting.
But assistant state attorneys Michael Von Zamft, Marie Mato and Joshua Hubner said that a change in reporting methods employed by the Miami-Dade Police Department Crime Laboratory made it impossible to conclusively identify DNA recovered from the murder weapon as belonging to Charles. Under those new protocols, the DNA on the gun could only be classified as twenty times more likely to be from Charles than from an unknown individual, a ratio that is considered to be extremely low.
Furthermore, a defendant in unrelated case reported that a local gang would often hide weapons in Charles’ home, creating a plausible scenario for the teen’s DNA to be on the gun, without him being connected to the Raksin murder.
The initial evidence that placed a cell phone belonging to Charles near the murder scene was also found to be erroneous. Cell phone records proved that the phone in question was actually being used by Charles’ brother, Julien, when the murder occurred and was found to be much further away from the murder scene than previously thought.
Attorneys for the state concluded that the state could no longer prove Charles’ guilt and submitted a memo dropping all charges, changing the status of the case to an open investigation while affirming its ongoing commitment to bringing justice to the Raksin family.