Deandre Charles, the 15-year-old accused of murdering a rabbi during a daylight robbery attempt in Northeast Miami-Dade last year, pleaded not guilty on Monday.
The tall and lanky teen — his distinct hair cut short while in jail — appeared Monday in Miami-Dade Circuit Court for his arraignment after a grand jury last week indicted him for first-degree murder.
Prosecutors say Charles shot and killed Joseph Raksin, a rabbi visiting from Brooklyn who was walking to synagogue in August 2014. Raksin, in accordance with his beliefs, had no valuables on him when he was felled by one .40-caliber bullet to the chest.
Raksin was walking to Bais Menachem Chabad in the 1000 block of Northeast 172nd Terrace for the Sabbath. His murder sparked fear in the heavily Orthodox Jewish neighborhood, which raised $50,000 for a reward to help catch his killer.
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Charles, a Norland High student with a scant criminal history, remains jailed while awaiting trial.
The state has not detailed the full evidence against Charles, who was 14 at the time of the slaying. But Miami-Dade prosecutors, in a news conference last week, said DNA and eyewitness testimony linked Charles to the crime scene.
“Everyone wants to know some facts about this case. Mr. Charles does. I do,” said his defense attorney, Adam Goodman. “Right now, Mr. Charles is sitting in jail not knowing any of the evidence against him.”
Charles’ family has told reporters that the teen has an alibi for the day of the shooting. Prosecutors have issued subpoenas to them to take their sworn statements.
In court, Charles’ family wore T-shirts adorned with his mugshot and nickname that read: “Free Big Boy.”