Teen accused in rabbi’s death goes home free man

MIAMI (WSVN) - Just one day after the charges against a teen accused of murdering a rabbi were dropped, the teen will finally go home a free man.

It’s been over two years since now-16-year-old Deandre Charles was accused of killing Rabbi Yosef Raksin, a New York rabbi visiting South Florida in August of 2014.

Charles was only 14 at the time he was arrested, in December of 2015. He spent 11 months behind bars before he was put on house arrest.

Now, in a major breakthrough for his defense, all charges against him have been dropped.

“There’s no evidence that he was involved with this case, and we told them that,” said his attorney, Adam Goodman, “and he sat in jail for 11 months. He missed his freshman year of high school because of the State Attorney’s Office.”

On Tuesday, the Miami-Dade State Attorney’s Office said they did not have evidence to charge Charles.

“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 lab 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.

“What they had in this case was a DNA profile that was consistent with the profile of Deandre,” said attorney James Demiles. “But when you say a profile, that profile can mean anything. It could mean the color of his skin, and how many people would have the same profile?”

The state had also been relying on cellphone records to prosecute the teen. The initial information they had received was that Charles’ cellphone was in the same area where the rabbi was killed.

However, it was later discovered that the cellphone was being used by someone else.

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.

Wednesday morning, Charles stood before a judge for his final hearing inside of the Metro Justice Building.

As he left the court room, as he had done numerous times before, he had little to say.

Outside of his mother’s home, Wednesday afternoon, the expression on their faces showed their exhaustion and relief. “I know him, that’s the point about it, you know what I’m saying?” said his mother Blair Charles, visibly relieved. “I was waiting for this news for months.”

Now, a 16-year-old with no pending charges, his defense team said he can finally move on with his life.

“We’ve said from the beginning, this is not just a ‘not guilty,’ this is a ‘he did not do this, he was not there that day,'” Goodman said. “This was a travesty.”

Charles is now looking forward to the future. “I’m excited,” he said.

Despite Tuesday’s verdict, the state is not giving up in its search for the killer responsible for the rabbi’s death.

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