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MIAMI (CBSMiami) — A South Florida teen charged with murdering a rabbi faced a judge Friday.
Fifteen year old Deandre Charles asked the judge to release him on bond but that decision will be left to a later date.
Police say Charles shot and killed Rabbi Joseph Raksin during an attempted robbery in Miami Beach.
Friday’s hearing began with a witness who testified he heard someone screaming for help down the street from his house the morning the rabbi was murdered. He looked outside to see two men running down the street. He said one of the men, tall and slender, turned around and looked straight at him and he got a good look at his face.
The witness testified anonymously, at least as far as reporters and a television and newspaper photographer were concerned. Judge Jason Bloch granted a state motion to conceal the man’s face and name from the media.
Prosecutor Michael Van Zamft told CBS4 News he wanted the witness to “stay alive,” and that’s why the state wanted his identity kept secret.
“The media blurring his face is needed in order to protect the witness,” Prosecutor Marie Mato told the judge.
The defense strenuously objected to blocking the witness’s identity, attorney Adam Goodman saying it would telegraph a presumption in the community that Charles is guilty, before he has even come to trial.
The anonymous witness testified that he drew a sketch of the man he saw running away, the one whose face he clearly saw.
The cartoon-like drawing has been derided by the defense, which claims it does not resemble Charles and could be anyone.
The man testified he was shown a photo lineup by police, who already suspected Charles, and picked Charles from the photos.
In court the man pointed at Charles, and identified him as the person he saw running from the murder scene.
The state has said it has DNA linking Charles to the murder, but the defense has challenged the DNA profile saying it is a broad sample that could match countless other people.
Among those in a packed courtroom Friday were the murdered Rabbi’s daughter, a niece and nephew and scores of temple members.
Charles had a large contingent of supporters including his mother and stepfather. They have said that Charles was at home at the time of the killing.
The decision on whether to let Charles out on bond will have to wait until the hearing is continued in February.
Another issue at hand is evidence.
Goodman has accused the state of withholding evidence from him.
Goodman argued that the State Attorney’s office, which has been working on this murder case for 16 months, is not releasing all the evidence they have uncovered, as is required by law.
Prosecutors have pushed back, saying they themselves have not seen some of the evidence Goodman has been demanding.
The judge set another hearing to check on exactly when the State will have more evidence to turn over.