Crime

‘Worst witness sketch in history’ of suspect in Miami goes viral — but it was not done by police

Miami-Dade State Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle holds a sketch and photo of the teenager arrested for the murder of Rabbi Joseph Raksin during a press conference on Dec. 9. The amateur sketch has gone viral on the Internet, with many people mistakenly believing the drawing was done by a police artist.
Miami-Dade State Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle holds a sketch and photo of the teenager arrested for the murder of Rabbi Joseph Raksin during a press conference on Dec. 9. The amateur sketch has gone viral on the Internet, with many people mistakenly believing the drawing was done by a police artist. wmichot@miamiherald.com

No, the simplistic suspect sketch that has gone viral on the Internet was not drawn by a Miami-Dade police artist.

And no, it was not central in capturing a Miami teen accused of murdering a rabbi.

The sketch was presented earlier this month during a press conference to announce the arrest of Deandre Charles, 15, who is awaiting trial on charges of killing of Rabbi Joseph Raksin. The rabbi was gunned down while walking to a synagogue in Northeast Miami-Dade in August 2014.

Photos of State Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle holding the childlike sketch have quickly become the butt of Internet jokes. Social-media posts and memes have likened the drawing to characters from shows such as Bob’s Burgers, The Muppets or Sesame Street.

The popular website BuzzFeed dubbed it the “worst witness sketch in history” — and initially labeled it a “police sketch,” before later correcting that error.

In fact, the sketch came to police unsolicited.

“It was actually done by an eyewitness who decided himself to sketch something so he wouldn’t forget what the offender looked like,” said State Attorney’s Office spokeswoman Terry Gonzalez-Chavez. “We clearly said at the press conference that it had been done by an amateur.”

And while the sketch was helpful for Miami-Dade homicide detectives, the case was not built on the drawing.

Investigators say Charles’ DNA found at the crime scene was crucial to making the arrest. Cellphone records and the eyewitness also placed Charles near the scene.

Charles has pleaded not guilty to charges of attempted armed robbery and first-degree murder.

“It’s the only evidence I’ve seen so far,” defense attorney Adam Goodman said of the sketch. “The state hasn’t even given me a witness list.”

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