Teen accused of fatally shooting rabbi granted $300,000 bond

DeAndre Charles, 15, in jail since December arrest

MIAMI – A 15-year-old boy accused of fatally shooting a rabbi in northeast Miami-Dade County in August 2014 was granted a $300,000 bond Wednesday, which calls into question the state's case against the teen. 

DeAndre Charles has been held at the Turner Guilford Knight Correctional Center without bond on charges of first-degree murder and armed robbery since he was arrested last December.

Wednesday's decision was the culmination of court hearings over the past couple of weeks where the state argued its evidence was enough to keep Charles in jail before his trial. 

According to prosecutors, officers were tipped off shortly after the shooting about two possible gunmen. A rough sketch was also drawn by a witness who lives in the area where Rabbi Joseph Raksin was killed.

Police said Raksin, 60, was targeted in an attempted robbery on Aug. 9, 2014, while walking to a synagogue.

Charles' family maintains that he was home at the time of the shooting. The teen was a freshman at Miami Norland Senior High School.

"We do agree with the facts that were laid out in this order," Adam Goodman, Charles' attorney, said. "So we're glad that Mr. Charles has an opportunity to fight the case from home now."

According to the court order issued by Miami-Dade County Judge Jason Bloch, DNA found on evidence, such as the rabbi's clothing, several areas of the SUV used as the getaway car and gun accessories were "mixtures, meaning they came from multiple sources."

"Even if one were to assume he was at that encounter and subsequently fled, there is no evidence that he was the trigger man, or of his involvement or intent with respect to the shooting at all," Judge Jason Bloch said. 

Goodman agreed.

"I don't even really think this is circumstantial," Goodman said. "I think this is a lot of nothing, unfortunately, and I feel horrible for the family of the deceased because they have to go through this proceeding, too."

Prosecutors argued that Charles' DNA, which was found in the car, linked to the DNA found on the scene as well as parts of the gun that was found near the rabbi's body. However, DNA experts testified that the match was weak.

"The state has presented no direct evidence of the defendants' guilt," Bloch said. "No witness has identified the defendant as the shooter, and indeed there were no witnesses to the shooting at all. The murder weapon has not been found."

In a statement, the state attorney's office maintained that its case against Charles has always been based on circumstantial evidence.

"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," the statement said.

Charles has a previous juvenile record that includes charges of theft and resisting arrest without violence.

As part of the conditions for his release, Charles will be placed on house arrest and outfitted with a GPS monitor if he bails out of jail. He will not be allowed to own or possess any firearms or ammunition and he will be subjected to random warrantless searches.

He is also not allowed to use the Internet or a telephone, unless it is to speak with his legal counsel or for medical and safety emergencies.

Charles' family must prove that the money used to bail him out is legitimate before he can be released.

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