MIAMI (CBSMiami) — The family of a teen accused of a 2014 murder on a Rabbi in North Miami Beach insists he’s innocent.
They say the teen was at home when Rabbi Joseph Raksin was shot and killed while walking to a Jewish synagogue on North Miami Beach in 2014.
“He’s a good child,” said Blair Charles, the suspect’s mother.
She cannot believe that her 15-year-old son DeAndre Charles, a freshman at Miami Norland Senior High School, is accused of shooting and killing the Rabbi.
Wednesday morning, Miami-Dade Police officers raided their home on 183rd Street and N.W. 6th Avenue and took bags of evidence into custody, as well as DeAndre Charles.
According to DeAndre Charles’ family, police had their sights on him for some time – having interviewed him twice.
Police sources told CBS4 that DeAndre Charles did not make any incriminating statements when he was taken into custody and almost immediately invoked his right to an attorney.
Blair Charles said they arrested the wrong person.
“My son was here. That day I was working. All my kids were here. It was a Saturday. So he has an alibi? Yes, and the detectives interrogated him twice and tried to pin it on him,” said mom.
DeAndre Charles’ step-father, Willis Archibald, was just as confident.
“He had nothing to do with this case,” Archibald told CBS4 reporter Peter D’Oench.
“He was home at the time. His whole family knows that. This is ridiculous. I hear they say this was the miracle of Hanukkah. This was not. They are pinning this on a young teenager that has a lot of issues but this is ridiculous. I am 100% sure that he is innocent,” Archibald added.
The state attorney, however, said prosecutors have a solid case.
“There is a lot of evidence-rich, though factually poor, but evidence-rich in terms of circumstantial evidence to piece the case together,” said Miami-Dade State Attorney Katherine Fernandez-Rundle.
Friends at school do not believe the 9th grade suspect is guilty.
“I know him. He couldn’t have done it. It’s not like him, he couldn’t have done it,” said one student.
“There is just no way. This could not have been him,” said another.
Despite the insistence of innocence, the suspect’s family said they are sorry that the Rabbi’s life was taken.
“This is a terrible tragedy for the victim and his family. This is terrible what happened,” said Demetrius Gunn, DeAndre Charles’ biological father. “Kids today are out there on the street even though we do all we can for them.”
“I feel terrible for what happened to the Rabbi. Of course, the whole family feels that way,” said Archibald.
But their son’s innocence is still their primary concern.
“I will fight this to my grave,” said the accused’s mother.
A Grand Jury indicted DeAndre Charles on a charge of first-degree murder and attempted robbery. He will be tried as an adult.
He is scheduled to appear in court on December 14th.
Police are also looking for other suspects.