Charges dropped against San Francisco teen accused of murder

Byby Elissa Harrington via KGO logo
Wednesday, January 28, 2015
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Even though a 14-year-old murder suspect has been released, San Francisco investigators say they're still looking into whether he was connected in some way.

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- Surveillance video has led San Francisco authorities to the conclusion that a teenager arrested for murder wasn't the one who committed the crime.

Prosecutors now believe he was not the killer, who stabbed a young teenager to death. And while they're still not convinced he wasn't involved in some way, for now he's out of jail and no longer facing charges.

The 14-year-old victim, Rashawn Williams, was stabbed to death back in September outside Rubins Market at Folsom and 26th streets in San Francisco's Mission District.

Public defenders say police arrested the wrong person and they have the video to prove it. Even though the teen has been released, investigators are still looking into whether he was connected in some way.

The main suspect, who was also a former classmate of the victim, was released from a juvenile detention center on Tuesday after the district attorney dropped the charges against the teen.

"You have to look at every piece of evidence in any case," said Assistant District Attorney Alex Bastian. "You have to look at what people will be able to testify in court, you have to look at forensic evidence, you have to really talk to experts, you have to see what occurred in a particular case."

Public defender Jeff Adachi says surveillance video was the key. In the video showing the stabbing, the victim is outlined in a yellow circle. A male in dark clothing is outlined in red while another in khakis, circled in blue, is seen running from the corner store. A shot from minutes earlier gives a clearer picture of the teens, who were there.

"It was only when our investigator was able to get video from another location, which showed that the clothing of the person who committed the stabbing was not the clothing worn by our client," Adachi said. "And that's what ultimately broke the case."

Adachi says the male circle in red clearly committed the stabbing, while his client was the one charged. He's now free to go.

"Our client is relieved," he said. "His family has been through a horrible nightmare where their son was accused of a crime he didn't commit."

But the nightmare continues for Williams' family. The teen was a standout athlete and straight A student at Sacred Heart Cathedral Prep. Loved ones will have to wait even longer for justice.

Although Adachi seems confident the video shows who really committed the crime, there's nobody in custody for the teen's murder.