A Broward grand jury on Thursday delivered first-degree murder indictments against two Miami-Dade men who were allegedly burglarizing cars in Cooper City when one of them fled from police and hit two bicyclists, killing them.
Obrian Ricardo Oakley, 26, of Miami and Sadik Rashad Baxter, 25, of Miami Gardens each face two counts of first-degree murder for the deaths of Christopher McConnell, 61, of Cooper City and Dean Amelkin, 60, of Coral Springs. McConnell and Amelkin were cycling their usual Sunday morning route to the beach when they were hit by Oakley.
Oakley and Baxter, who are being held in a Broward jail without bond, were each charged with five counts of burglary, too. Oakley was also charged with two counts of vehicular homicide and one count of aggravated fleeing from police.
According to the Broward Sheriff’s Office, Oakley and Baxter were burglarizing cars in the Rock Creek neighborhood of Cooper City early Aug. 5 when residents spotted them and called police.
Baxter was arrested at the scene, but Oakley fled in a silver Infiniti — leading police on a high-speed chase, according to witnesses, and eventually running a red light and striking a red Toyota at the intersection of Palm Avenue and Sheridan Street.
The collision caused the Infiniti to spin out of control and strike McConnell and Amelkin. The men died from “multiple blunt force trauma,” according to Broward’s Office of the Medical Examiner.
Oakley bailed out of the car after the accident, and he hid for several hours while police, including K-9 units and helicopters, combed the neighborhood. They spotted him several hours later walking across Sheridan Street.
‘JUST AS CULPABLE’
Initially, prosecutors charged only Oakley with two counts of first-degree murder. But on Aug. 14, prosecutors charged Baxter as a principal to first-degree murder, even though he was not in the car when the collision took place.
Ron Ishoy, a spokesman for the State Attorney’s Office in Broward, said that under the law Baxter is just as culpable as Oakley for the murder of the bicyclists.
“It’s not the intent to commit the homicide that controls the filing of the charge,” Ishoy wrote in an email, “but rather the intent to commit the underlying felony [of burglary].”
Oakley is represented by Brian Reidy of the Broward Public Defender’s Office, who could not be reached for comment Thursday afternoon. It is unknown whether Baxter has retained an attorney.
Days after Oakley’s arrest on Aug. 5, Reidy told The Miami Herald that the issue of a police chase was in question. BSO policies forbid police chases except in cases of violent felonies. Yet, there is evidence that multiple BSO patrol cars tailed Oakley, with sirens blaring.
After his arrest, Oakley told BSO homicide detectives that he topped 110 miles per hour as he sped from police.
POLICY IN QUESTION
A resident who was walking in the neighborhood on the morning of the collision told The Herald that she saw a “very fast” police chase just moments before the incident.
BSO officials have declined to comment on the case or to acknowledge that a pursuit took place.
If deputies violated BSO policy by chasing Oakley, it’s possible that the department could be sued by the families of the two slain bicyclists.