MIAMI – (CBS4) – The family of Christine Myers, the 18-year-old woman who was murdered and raped inside a Sunrise apartment in September of 2005, say justice against their daughter’s accused killer has finally prevailed – despite the complicated legal road that led them there.
Edward Mozie was the accused murderer and rapist in the 2005 case. But Mozie escaped a guilty conviction in Broward after a jury there acquitted him of the crime despite overwhelming evidence against him including the suspect’s DNA found in the victim’s underwear.
The verdict disappointed Myers’ family. But soon, another legal avenue opened. It turned out Edward Mozie was on probation at the time of Myers’ murder for burglary and battery that occurred in Miami in January of 2005.
Even though he was acquitted of the rape and murder in Broward, prosecutors in Miami-Dade were successful in locking up Mozie for violating probation by murdering Myers. It’s a very rare legal move but, one that will keep Mozie locked up for 30 years, Judge Diane Ward ruled during the hearing that concluded Tuesday night.
“It was like 6 years of anguish and grief came to fruition on a positive note,” Bill Myers told CBS4’s Carey Codd. “This person is pure evil and he needs to be locked up or someone else will get hurt.”
A Broward County jury in 2009 cleared Mozie of the charges. The reason? Mozie’s defense attorney argued that Mozie’s brother — James — could have committed the crime. James was dating Myers at the time.
“God provided a second avenue for justice,” Myers’ father, Bill, told CBS 4 News.
On Monday, prosecutors laid out the case against Mozie in the Myers murder. Mozie’s sister and brother testified against him as they did in the 2009 trial in Broward County.
They testified that Mozie was left alone with Myers on the evening of September 19, 2005.
In the early morning hours of September 20, Myers made a terrifying 911 call.
On the recording she quickly gave the address where she was and said, “I’m getting raped. I’m getting raped. I’m about to be killed.”
Then, the phone line went dead.
Years went by before Mozie went to trial. Prosecutors on Monday said Mozie caused delay after delay. They got a glimpse of that on Monday.
Mozie was late to court before he had to be rushed to the hospital after saying that he swallowed a razor blade. According to the doctor who saw the x-rays, Mozie actually swallowed a staple.
Once in court, Mozie stared at a back wall refusing to look at the victim’s family.
He again attempted to delay the hearing by saying he wanted to represent himself because he wasn’t convinced his court-appointed attorney had his best interests in mind.
“I don’t trust this man,” Mozie told Judge Diane Ward.
Mozie also told his attorney that he didn’t feel up to the hearing, has recently attempted to slash his wrists and was hearing voices.
Prosecutor Gail Levine said Mozie has been evaluated by psychiatrists ten times in recent years and only on one occasion was seen to have mental illness.
“This is a pattern of behavior,” Levine said.
Mozie’s attorney, Christian Dunham, said he doesn’t plan to call any witnesses. He argued that someone else killed Christine Myers.
Bill Myers hopes a new judge will see the evidence with fresh eyes and lock Edward Mozie away. He believes it’s what Christine wants.
“I think she would be happy to have us some closure and move on and remember more and more each day the good things she brought to our life,” Myers said. “That’s what I’m hoping for. Finally justice.”
RARE LEGAL MOVE
Criminal defense attorney and former state prosecutor Ken Padowitz said this situation is very rare but also completely legal. He said it is not double jeopardy, where a defendant is tried twice for the same crime. In other words, a jury has to find the defendant guilty beyond a reasonable doubt, which is a high standard. But a judge only has to find a defendant guilty by a “preponderance of the evidence.”
“If you’re on probation you better not be accused of violating that probation because if you’re found guilty you can be sentenced to a very long term in prison,” Padowitz said.
Questions remain about why Mozie was on the streets of South Florida in late 2005.
CBS 4 I-TEAM INVESTIGATION
In 2009, the CBS 4 I-Team investigated why a DNA match message sent by the national DNA database confirming the identity of a suspected rapist — Mozie — was not received by the Miami-Dade Police Department. Mozie was able to remain free on the South Florida streets for months.
Fourteen months after the DNA match, the rape suspect — Mozie — was arrested in a separate case for murdering Christine Myers.
Records show the DNA match sent by CODIS — the national DNA database — to MDPD on July 18, 2004 would have linked Edward Mozie to a rape on January 18, 2004 in Northwest Miami-Dade. The Florida Department of Law Enforcement confirms it received a copy of the notification on that date.
However, in a memo obtained by the CBS 4 I-Team, MDPD says it has no record of the match being received by the department’s Crime Lab at that time. That means the information never got passed along to MDPD detectives who were looking for the rapist in the Northwest Miami-Dade attack.
Mozie was arrested on September 20, 2005 by the Sunrise Police Department for the murder of 18-year-old Christine Myers — 14 months after the DNA match that should have led to his arrest on a rape charge.
The CBS 4 I-Team broke the news to Bill Myers about the timeline showing that Mozie’s DNA match to the January 2004 rape was made in July 2004.
“This timeline tells me that in July 2004 the man who murdered my daughter should have been arrested,” Myers said.
At the time of our report, neither Miami-Dade Police Department Director Robert Parker nor anyone else from MDPD would speak on camera with the I-Team for this story. However, MDPD documents obtained by the CBS 4 I-Team show that after we started asking questions regarding the Mozie case, top officials within MDPD began inquiring about the DNA match. At one point, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, which runs CODIS, the national DNA database, was asked by MDPD and FDLE to investigate the matter.
The FBI determined that the match message was “properly sent to the Miami-Dade laboratory.”
However, in a memo dated June 18, 2009, the MDPD Crime Lab Commander wrote, “There is no actual proof from the State or the FBI that we acknowledged receiving (the DNA match on Mozie) since we did not receive the information in 2004.” MDPD says it received the match message in 2007.
Mozie’s DNA has been in the state system for years. It first entered the state DNA database following Mozie’s 1997 conviction for carjacking. Mozie’s rap sheet dates back to the mid-1990’s for a host of charges including carjacking, robbery with a deadly weapon and attempted sexual battery.
A former law enforcement officer at MDPD, with knowledge of the Mozie case, spoke to the CBS 4 I-Team on condition of anonymity. Since Mozie’s DNA had been on file with the state since 1997, the former officer said investigators at MDPD working the 2004 rape case were stumped as to why there wasn’t a DNA match on Mozie earlier.
“When it happened and we knew who the person was and we found out when his information was in the database it was always a mystery to us why there was never a match,” the former law enforcement officer told the CBS 4 I-Team. “We couldn’t understand it.”
On January 18, 2004, at 3:40 in the morning, a woman was pumping gas into her car at a Northwest Miami-Dade gas station.
She told detectives a man forced her into her car. The man drove her around, beat her, raped her and robbed her.
The victim told police the ordeal lasted several hours before she was able to escape.
According to the former law enforcement officer, as soon as officers learned of the case, it became a priority because of the violent nature of the attack.
“It’s extremely unusual and very violent,” the former law enforcement officer said. “Anytime someone would approach someone at a gas station where other people would have the opportunity to view, the ability of having security cameras, tells you this person has absolutely no regard for the safety of any other person.”
The police report shows that detectives recovered a man’s DNA from the attack.
That DNA was sent to the Miami-Dade Police Department Crime Lab and eventually to the state DNA database for testing.
According to FDLE, a match was made on Mozie on July 18, 2004 at 10:45 am. When DNA matches are made in the CODIS system, a message is automatically sent to the state and local crime labs. MDPD said it never received the message.
JANUARY 2005 ARREST
Edward Mozie would not escape the scrutiny of law enforcement.
In January 2005, Mozie was arrested for the attempted sexual battery and burglary of a woman in Miami Gardens. However, according to documents from the Miami-Dade State Attorney’s Office, the “victim refused to cooperate.”
State attorney records show Mozie pleaded guilty, served 6 months in jail and was placed on probation for 18 months. He was released from the Miami-Dade County Jail on July 19, 2005.
Because the DNA match from January 2004 had not surfaced, Sexual Crimes detectives at MDPD did not know Mozie was a wanted man.
“He was arrested and had we been notified of the hit we would have known at the time that we had our subject,” the former law enforcement officer told the I-Team.
On the evening of September 20, 2005, Edward Mozie traveled to the Sunrise apartment of his brother, James, for a party. James’ girlfriend, Christine Myers, also attended the party.
James Mozie left the apartment around midnight to buy beer.
Between the time James Mozie left and when he returned, Christine Myers placed a 911 call.
She is heard giving the address of her location then makes the following statement, “I’m getting raped. I’m getting raped and I’m about to get killed.”
According to the police report, when James Mozie returned he saw Edward lying on top of Christine Myers. James tried to get in the apartment but the door was locked. He smashed out a window but cut a deep gash in his wrist. James told police he left the apartment after he saw police lights heading to the area because he believed he had outstanding warrants for his arrest.
When police arrived minutes after the 911 call, they found Christine Myers’ body. They also found Edward Mozie hiding under a pile under of clothes.
Mozie, using the alias Edward Howard, would be charged with Myers’ rape and murder.
Christine Myers’ blood was found on Edward Mozie’s clothing. Mozie also told detectives to tell Christine’s family, “I’m sorry but she had to die.”
INVESTIGATING A DELAY
Detectives with Sunrise Police collected DNA evidence after Christine Myers’ murder in 2005. According to an MDPD memo, in May 2007 it received notification from the FDLE that the DNA evidence in Myers’ murder linked Edward Mozie to the January 2004 rape in Miami-Dade.
In April 2009, after the CBS 4 I-Team began requesting information in this case, MDPD memos show that department officials began inquiring about the delay in identifying Mozie as the suspect in the January 2004 rape.
“The MDPD Crime Lab is not disputing that (the match message on Mozie) was sent, only that we have no record of the information ever being received,” the memo reads.
In the memo, MDPD says, “there is no audit trail available” within the national DNA system to determine whether the lab actually received the match message on Mozie. The memo also states, “At this time, from all of the information available to the MDPD Crime Lab, no one is at fault.”
FDLE told the I-Team there were 41 DNA matches in the batch of messages sent to MDPD on July 18, 2004. An MDPD memo says the agency did not receive a single message on that date and that “the matches in question were sent to the Crime Lab by the FDLE on five separate dates.”
An FDLE spokesperson referred specific questions about the DNA matches to MDPD. FDLE spokesperson Heather Smith did tell the I-Team, “we’ve received an indication that the system provided proper notification on that date,” regarding the July 18, 2004 DNA match on Mozie.
According to MDPD, the FBI investigated the issue on June 9, 2009. An MDPD memo states, “The FBI found no evidence to confirm the Crime Lab’s receipt of that match prior to May, 2007.”
The discrepancy has led to a change. The MDPD Lab Commander wrote in a memo, “Although faulty transmissions may be rare, the FDLE now informs the Crime Lab Bureau via telephone of pending matches that have not yet been processed by the Crime Lab Bureau to highlight any such possible matches.”
MDPD also created a “Hit Tracker” program in the Crime Lab that makes each department within MDPD “accountable for its’ own DNA matches.” The program requires each department to record the disposition of each DNA match.
“LIMITATION” OF NATIONAL DNA DATABASE
MDPD said the lack of an “audit trail” in the national DNA database is a “limitation” of the system. MDPD said there is an audit trail showing when DNA evidence is entered into the system, however, there is no audit trail to create a record of when a crime lab receives a DNA match message.
In a memo provided to the I-Team, MDPD says, “Unfortunately, at this time, it cannot be said with certainty that (the Mozie discrepancy) will never happen again.”
A FATHER’S PAIN
Bill Myers is now aware of the DNA match on Mozie in July 2004, 14 months before his daughter was raped and murdered. He believes the information should have been communicated more quickly. If that had happened, he believes detectives might have arrested Mozie for the January 2004 rape long before his daughter was killed.
“Victimized by a criminal and victimized by a system that is not operating properly,” he said. “I would like to see a revamping of the accountability and oversight methods of the way this information flows. This should not be happening.”
This grieving father tends carefully to his daughter’s grave, bringing her flowers, trimming the grass and cleaning the grave marker with baby oil. He says it’s the only thing he can do for her.
“As a dad you feel like you’re always there to protect your daughter and I wasn’t there,” he said. “I know it wasn’t my fault but in my mind I still hear her calling, ‘Dad, help. Dad, help.'”