MIAMI (CBSMiami) – Vindication for a 20-year-old Southwest Miami-Dade man charged with the rape and kidnapping of an 18-year-old Homestead high school student after state prosecutors decided to drop all charges against him and seal his record immediately.
It happened on the same day that a 28-year-old man Miguel Bustos appeared in bond court, charged with the rape that Macias had been cleared of. Bustos shares the same first name as Macias and police say he was at the same party in December that the victim said she was at before she was abducted and raped.
Police said Bustos ironically was arrested based on his DNA matching the DNA found on the victim.
Bustos had been arrested in 2011 and charged with aggravated assault with a deadly firearm.
Bustos was held without bond and ordered to stay away from the victim. He said he did not have the money to pay for an attorney.
Macias told CBS4’s Peter D’Oench that he was grateful charges had been dropped against him.
“Well first of all, I would like to thank my lawyer for doing a very great job,” said Macias as he walked out of the courtroom. “My family and my friends stood by my side and we’re committed to make sure this doesn’t happen to anyone else.”
Macias said, “I knew from the very beginning I was innocent. It knew it was just a matter of time. No I would not say I am angry. I don’t know how I feel. I don’t want to say something too much but I am feeling that I am grateful to my lawyer. I am grateful that I have a good lawyer.”
He recalled being pulled over by police after his attorney Mark Eiglarsh said a BOLO or be-on-the-lookout bulletin was issued for him.
“That’s when police officers asked for my license and made a couple of phone calls,” he said. “The cops put me in handcuffs and said I was going in for questioning.”
During the proceeding Wednesday morning, Miami-Dade Judge Jason Bloch apologized to Macias for what he had to endure.
“Mr. Macias I apologize for what happened to you sir. Obviously things have now come to light. The state is not pursuing charges against you. I will sign this order sealing your record,” Bloch told him. “I wish you the best of luck.”
Prosecutor Kathleen Hoague also apologized.
“We are very sorry this man was in custody for some time but as soon as we found out, we did what we had to do and we released him. This is not the first time this has happened and this will probably not be the last,” she said.
The charges were dropped after test results showed Macias was not responsible.
“Based on the information we have recently received, Mr. Macias is the victim of mis-identification, he has been completely exonerated by DNA results,” said prosecutor Hoague in court.
In court, Eiglarsh told the Judge, “It was an identification from Facebook. The victim said that guy raped me.”
“He was in jail for 42 days for a crime he did not commit, DNA exonerated him and an airtight alibi. Why these charges were filed needs to be investigated,” said Eiglarsh.
“My client and I wanted to make sure this doesn’t happen to anyone ever again,” he said. “The charges should never have been brought. Detectives did not do a thorough investigation. Prosecutor Cristina Cabrera filed this with scant evidence. The victim identified my client based on a Facebook photo. I understand mistakes occur but things could have been done differently. You don’t file charges when the evidence is not strong enough and before a laboratory can show my client didn’t do it.”
“I think the detectives need to be held accountable so they can increase their level of awareness and prosecutors need to learn from this so it doesn’t happen to anyone else,” said Eiglarsh.
He also had Macias show his numerous tattoos and said that a victim would have noticed them even though the crime reportedly happened at nighttime.
The victim in this case told D’Oench off camera that Macias was not the one who attacked her.
“I made a mistake,” she said. “The people I was with even told me that it was not him. I now know about the DNA and realize someone else attacked me. I am glad that an arrest has been made.”
Macias was arrested March 13th after the student contacted Miami-Dade police and said he was the person who had attacked her.
The teen said she met her attacker in December while hanging out with friends.
Miami-Dade Police Detective Daniel Ferrin said both men were at the same party. Their mug shots show a striking resemblance. An arrest report says the victim accepted a ride with Bustos and was taken to a remote area where her attorney said she was raped twice.
Eiglarsh said prosecutors decided to file charges based on the woman’s word after she found Macias on Facebook and thought he was the man responsible.
Police and prosecutors said they had probable cause to make an arrest.
Miami-Dade Police Sgt. John Barrow said “The victim came forward to police immediately and reported the rape. She did identify this subject to us and fearing for the safety of the public, we made an arrest. We can not always wait for DNA. We cannot wait especially with allegations from victims that there is a person out there committing rapes. Heaven forbid that this subject is going to go to clubs looking for other victims. It is our duty and our responsibility. We would be liable if we allowed this person to remain in public to commit more crimes.”
“Sometimes you are darned if you do and darned if you don’t,” said Hoague. “If we had not arrest him and something had happened you would be asking me a different question. It’s a judgement call.”
“Our detectives do not go on Facebook alone when it comes to identifying the people involved in such crimes,” said Hoague.
She said there is no general rule as to whether authorities should wait for DNA results before filing charges.
“It can be done or not done,” she said. “It depends on the circumstances.”
Eiglarsh said during questioning his client vehemently denied that it was him and volunteered a DNA sample to prove that the semen recovered from the girl was not his. He also said Macias also showed authorities text messages in which family members proved there was an alibi for him.
He was released from jail last week.