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In a major twist, Tuesday, the charges against a man accused of killing a rabbi who was visiting South Florida have been dropped.
The young man, Deandre Charles, had said all along that he did not kill Rabbi Yosef Raksin in August of 2014.
On Tuesday, the state said they did not have evidence to charge the suspect. Furthermore, they said, an armed robbery that happened the day before also played a major role in the state’s decision to drop the case against Charles.
Raksin was killed in August of 2014 while walking to a synagogue in Northeast Miami-Dade.
Charles, who was only 14 at the time, was arrested as a suspect in December of 2015 and spent months behind bars before he was placed on house arrest.
“I did not switch up my story yet, bro, I told you everything,” said Charles in a police interrogation video when he was arrested. “You think I want to be here? I don’t want to be here, bro.”
And that’s exactly what prosecutors said, Tuesday.
“Unfortunately, at this time, the trial team does not believe it can prove the defendant’s guilt beyond a reasonable doubt,” said the Miami-Dade State Attorney’s Office in a statement.
The state had been relying on DNA evidence to charge Charles. However, their evidence fell apart.
Since the shooting in 2014, the crime laboratory at the Miami-Dade Police Department has changed its protocol when it comes to DNA. Now, the state believes the evidence against Charles would not have held up in court.
The state was also relying on cellphone records to prosecute Charles. The initial information they had received was that Charles’ cellphone was in the same area where the rabbi was killed.
However, it was then discovered that the cellphone was being used by someone else.
And yet another thing devastated the prosecution’s evidence.
“At the time of the indictment, the trial team was unaware that the firearm used in this murder had been used 30 hours prior in an armed robbery,” added the Miami-Dade State Attorney’s Office in the statement.
On Oct. 1, 2015, the investigation discovered a connection between that armed robbery in Northwest Miami-Dade and the murder. A police analyst confirmed both casings were fired from the same gun.
However, prosecutors said, they were never made aware of this connection until months later.
In March, 7News sat down with the rabbi’s daughter, who told us she had been longing for justice.
“Sometimes it’s hard for me to look at the picture,” said the rabbi’s daughter Shuli Labkowski, in March of 2016. “I don’t always have what to say because justice is still not done.”
Despite Tuesday’s verdict, the state is not giving up in its search for the killer responsible for the rabbi’s death.
“The state attorney’s office remains committed to bring justice to the Raksin family,” said the Miami-Dade State Attorney’s Office in its statement.
The rabbi’s family has been informed of the verdict. Although they are disappointed, they are still waiting and praying for justice.