North Miami Beach

Man Wrongly Accused of Rabbi's Murder Speaks Out

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The man who was wrongly accused as a teenager of the murder of a New York rabbi is speaking out years after prosecutors dropped the charges against him.

Deandre Charles, now 20, told NBC 6 in an exclusive interview that he uses music to move beyond being charged with the murder of Rabbi Joseph Raskin when he was only 14.

"I try to let that bygones be bygones. Just work on a lot of music and that’s the best way I can explain myself to express myself - my pain through my music," said Charles, who raps under the name Papito El Franklins.

Back in August 2014, Raskin was walking to a North Miami Beach temple when he was shot during an encounter with two young men. Raskin was in town from New York visiting family. He later died at the hospital.

Prosecutors charged Charles with first-degree murder after a witness drew a sketch for police - an elementary drawing that went viral and became fodder for jokes.

"I'm like, 'Are they serious?'" Charles said. "They can’t be serious. They are really trying to charge me with a murder with this sketch — based off somebody drawing this sketch and trying to compare that sketch to my face."

The charges were dropped three years ago when new DNA and cell phone forensics eroded evidence against him. His lawsuit against Miami-Dade Police was dismissed.

"It was an unexplainable pain. Like I can’t even explain it," Charles said. "I don’t think no one could have felt that pain knowing you are locked up for something you didn’t even do—you know nothing about. It's like damn, I might be doing life for something I wasn’t even aware of."

Deandre Charles appears in court as the charges in the murder of Rabbi Joseph Raksin are officially dropped.

Charles and his attorney are demanding detectives to continue investigating the case. Attorney Jim DeMiles said a vehicle that was involved in the murder was also involved in a burglary earlier that day in that same neighborhood.

"We know who was in the vehicle …" DeMiles said. "We have a confession where somebody places himself in the vehicle with three other people."

Since Charles was initially charged, getting others convicted would be difficult, his attorney said.

"Well, we know who committed the crime," DeMiles said. "The question is, can they prove it?"

Miami Dade Police told us the rabbi’s murder is still an active case they are investigating. NBC 6 reached out to the state attorney but didn’t hear back from them.

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