MIAMI (CBSMiami) – Charges have been dropped against Deandre Charles, the teen once accused of being involved in the high-profile robbery and murder of a rabbi in Miami.
Rabbi Joseph Raksin was shot and killed in August of 2014.
According to prosecutors when they filed charges against Charles for the murder that took place in northwest Miami-Dade, they felt they had a strong case.
Charles’ attorney, Adam Goodman, said the case fell apart quickly and cost the teen a year of his life.
“He did not do this,” Goodman said. “He was not there that day. This was a travesty.”
Since Charles’ indictment in December 2015, prosecutors say the circumstances have changed. They say they don’t have “sufficient circumstantial evidence to prove the Defendant’s guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.”
“The degradation of the evidence at hand has made this an inescapable determination,” stated a closeout memo in the case dated Tuesday, January 17th.
When it comes to the DNA evidence they say was attributable to Charles, a change in lab protocols now means DNA analysts “can only testify that the Defendant cannot be included or excluded from the DNA mixture” found on the gun.
Prosecutors also said cellphone records did not end up showing Charles’ phone in the area of the murder scene and was actually in the possession of his brother Julien Charles at the time of the murder.
Investigators also said the defense might have a good argument for why Charles’ DNA was on the gun pieces, because people often hid guns at his home.
Also, the gun was used just hours before in an unsolved crime.
Prosecutors wrote in the memo, “In a case where the defense is misidentification and one of the State’s theories that the motive for the murder was robbery, the fact that the firearm was used the day before the murder in a robbery is highly relevant and supports the defense theory that someone else committed the murder, possibly the same person who committed the armed robbery.”
Prosecutors admitted that police knew for months about the gun being used in another crime but did not inform the state.
“That was something that the ball was dropped and that was a pretty big piece of evidence,” Goodman said.
Deandre’s mother maintained that he son was at home at the time of the murder. Meanwhile Charles said his goal is to go back to school.
“Go on with my life,” he said. “Let bygones be bygones.”
Attorney Goodman said he understands that there are no winners in this case.
“We want the State Attorney’s Office to obviously find the person who’s responsible for the death of the victim in this case,” Goodman said. “It’s a great day for us and I’m sure it’s a sad day for them as well.”
The state says they have no eyewitnesses to the shooting or a robbery that may have linked Charles, making it hard for them to rebut his claim of innocence.
Prosecutors say they remain committed to bringing justice to the Raksin family.
Rabbi Raksin was a well-known leader in New York City’s Jewish community.
He was visiting his daughter in Miami when he was murdered while walking to a local synagogue in broad daylight.
In accordance with his religious beliefs, Raksin was not carrying any valuables on the holy day.
The murder shocked the tight-knit Orthodox Jewish community of Northeast Miami-Dade.