A Miami-Dade teen will be allowed to post bail and remain on house arrest while awaiting trial on accusations he murdered a rabbi during a robbery, a judge ruled Wednesday while questioning the strength of the evidence gathered in the case.
Deandre Charles, 15, must post a $300,000 bond and wear a GPS ankle monitor.
Miami-Dade Circuit Judge Jason Bloch ruled that prosecutors failed to provide enough evidence to keep Charles behind bars before trial.
Visiting from Brooklyn, Rabbi Joseph Raksin was felled with one fatal .40-caliber round to the chest on the morning of Aug. 9, 2014. At the time, Raksin was on his way to Bais Menachem Chabad in the 1000 block of Northeast 172nd Terrace, just outside of North Miami Beach, for the Sabbath.
In accordance with his religious beliefs, Raksin was not carrying any valuables on the holy day. The murder shocked the tight-knit Orthodox Jewish community of Northeast Miami-Dade.
“From the beginning, we freely admitted that Deandre Charles’ arrest was based on the circumstantial evidence pieced together by the investigators who diligently worked on this homicide,” the state attorney’s office said in a statement. “While Judge Bloch’s order allowing the potential jail release of Deandre Charles is disappointing, it does not lessen the commitment of both the police and prosecutors to obtaining justice for the family of Rabbi Joseph Raksin.”
Only Charles has been charged in the slaying. He and his family have insisted he was home at the time of the murder.
“We are pleased with the ruling that Judge Bloch made in granting Mr. Charles a bond,’’ said Charles’ lawyer, Adam Goodman. “The evidence against Mr. Charles is extremely weak and highly circumstantial. Mr. Charles looks forward to fighting this case from home.’’
During three days of hearings in recent weeks, Miami-Dade prosecutors presented an eyewitness who identified the lanky Charles as one of two young men running from the scene moments after Raksin was mortally wounded.
But Bloch ruled that “there is no direct evidence of the defendant’s presence during the encounter with the victim. Even if one were to assume he was at that encounter, and subsequently fled, there is no evidence that he was the trigger man.”
The state also said cellphone records place Charles at the scene, and his DNA was found on a gun magazine found next to the body. His DNA, along with that of the rabbi’s, also was found on an SUV believed to be the getaway vehicle.
But the judge noted that the DNA match on the gun handle was weak – experts noted that “approximately half the world’s population” would also boast the same DNA identified in the sample.
And the DNA found in the SUV — Charles was pulled over along with a group of other young men in the vehicle a few days after the murder — proved nothing, the judge said. “There is no way to determine when any of the DNA was deposited,” Bloch wrote in his order.