Man accused in Miami Gardens drive-by killing actually in Mexico, defense says

Jordan White, charged in a Miami Gardens drive-by, was hundreds of miles away, according to his lawyer. A judge has set a hearing in the case.

05/21/2014 5:22 PM

05/21/2014 9:51 PM

When Kenzy Duroseau was slain in a drive-by shooting in front of his Miami Gardens home two months ago, detectives learned one of the attackers went by the street name “White Boy.”

A sole eyewitness came forward to identify Jordan White, 20, as one of the men who killed Duroseau. The witness told Miami Gardens police that he remembered White, a small-time local rapper with that nickname, from an online music video called Don’t Get Caught Slippin’.

But is he the right “White Boy?”

His defense attorney, armed with phone records, Internet data and travel documents, is countering with a alibi: White was hundreds of miles away in Mexico at the time of the killing.

“It is incomprehensible that my client is still in jail on this murder when there is crystal clear evidence that he did not commit it,” Miami lawyer Simon Steckel told Miami-Dade Circuit Judge Cristina Miranda.

Besides, Steckel said after the court hearing, that nickname could apply to an awful lot of people. “If you want to be technical, I’m a ‘White Boy’ too,” he said.

Miranda on Wednesday scheduled a hearing for next week to consider whether prosecutors have enough evidence to continue keeping White behind bars while he awaits trial.

The Miami-Dade state attorney’s office has ordered additional cellphone records that may pinpoint the exact geographic location of White’s cellphone during the days before and after the killing. But so far, prosecutors say, none of the evidence provided by White shows conclusively that he was out of the country, then came back in through Arizona.

“We have looked at all the documents and contacted Customs and Border Patrol, and nothing supports his contention that he was in Mexico that day. But we’re going to continue to look,” said prosecutor Richard Scruggs.

White is charged with second-degree murder. Before this year, he had had minor brushes with the law. Last year, he entered a pretrial diversion program for first-time offenders on a misdemeanor charge of resisting arrest without violence.

White and a co-defendant Desmond Owens, 19, were taken into custody in April as suspects in the shooting. Miami-Dade Schools Police then arrested the pair in connection with an additional crime — an earlier robbery.

Their lawyers say they have solid alibis in that case as well.

Owens’ attorney, Gregg Toung, told the judge that his client was jailed in Tallahassee the day of robbery.

And White, his family insists, was with his father all day, including a stop at a Walmart in North Broward soon after the robbery, a claim they say is backed up by surveillance video.

Prosecutors are also reviewing the evidence in that case. Formal charges have yet to be filed.

In the murder case, the victim is Duroseau, 20, who was fatally shot on the afternoon of March 29 in front of his home in the 2900 block of Northwest 158th Street.

Duroseau was talking to some friends outside when a silver, four-door Chrysler 300 crept past. Suddenly, two men in the car opened fire, according to a Miami Gardens police arrest warrant.

It was just the latest of a dozens of tit-for-tat shootings on the streets of the Northwest Miami-Dade city in the past few years.

Duroseau and his brother also were shot at last year, and they were alleged to have shot at the men, too, in another incident.

The dead man’s brother told detectives that he believed three men — known as Desmond, White Boy and King Wooksie — were behind last month’s slaying.

Another witness came forward later and claimed to Miami Gardens police that he was at the crime scene that day. He identified “White Boy” as Jordan White, whom he had seen on the YouTube music video.

The witness also identified Desmond Owens, 19, whom he claimed he knew from the neighborhood. Owens, too, was arrested, but his lawyer says the misidentification of White casts doubt on the credibility of the witness.

White’s family says he was part of a group of young men, including his music manager, who drove initially to Arizona in mid-March. From there, they drove to Mexico on a trip to the desert state of Sonora. Relatives insist he went as a tourist.

“He’d never been to Mexico before, and he was so excited,” his mother, Larah Tomen, said Wednesday. “He was like a little boy when he was out there.”

Among the evidence that Steckel says exonerates White:

• Subpoenaed records from the iPhone program MagicApp, which allows users to make calls through the Internet from anywhere in the world. He says the records show that White, using a local wireless Internet connection, called his mother from Mexico just hours after the shooting.
• Several Facebook message conversations between friends around the time of the shooting. White’s messages are tagged, via Facebook’s location-tagging feature, as having been sent from the town of Nacozari de Garcia, Mexico.
• In the days before and after the murder, White’s U.S. cellphone account logged no activity because he was in Mexico. It was not until March 31, Steckel maintains, that White walked across the border in Arizona and began using his phone to call home.
• According to Steckel, records show White’s father then bought him an airline ticket and he flew home from Arizona.

“I draw a distinction between a mere alibi defense and actual innocence,” Steckel said. “This young man is actually innocent of these charges.”

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