Good article but misleading title. Sadly, a lot of detectives are satisfied sending people 20 years in jail based on hunches and appearances.
By Chris Lane
By Jeff Balke
By Aaron Reiss
By Angelica Leicht
By Dianna Wray
By Aaron Reiss
By Camilo Smith
By Craig Malisow
In July 2009, 18-year-old Cameron Coker's life was ripped apart for future viewing by a national audience.
Coker, who'd previously been convicted of dealing drugs, was now the prime suspect in the shooting death of a 16-year-old boy at an apartment complex just east of Highway 6. For this homicide case, Harris County Sheriff's investigators had company: A film crew from the A&E show The First 48 was there to show the nuts and bolts of the investigation. Entering its tenth season, the series was based on the premise that the first 48 hours of a police investigation are the most crucial. After that time frame, potential evidence goes missing; crime scenes become contaminated; witnesses disappear.
This episode focuses on the murder of Erik Elizarraraz, who was killed on June 20, 2009, after a scuffle with a group of men at the Fox Pointe Apartments. The boy allegedly exchanged words with two guys in a gold Toyota or Honda earlier in the day, and the guys had returned that night, along with some friends. When Elizarraraz went to the balcony, someone in the group supposedly yelled up at him — calling him a "cholo." Regrettably, Elizarraraz took the bait. Witnesses said he went down to confront one of the men, who hit him to the ground and then shot him point-blank in the head as he tried to get to his feet.
When the episode, "Straight Menace," aired eight months later, Coker wasn't able to watch, since he was in Harris County Jail awaiting trial on the murder charge. But everyone else who tuned in could see just how the tall, skinny kid not yet out of his teens got pulled into a homicide investigation. Turns out serendipity played a big part.
Coker's name comes up three days into the investigation while Sgt. Ronald Hunter questions an alleged eyewitness to the shooting. The man, who looks to be barely out of his teens (he's never identified), glances at a photograph of young black males taped to the back of Hunter's office door and points to it. He says one of the men is "Killa" — the shooter.
The alleged witness says he knows "with everything I love and Jesus Christ as my witness, that's him."
When two other alleged witnesses identify Coker in a photo spread, the investigators are sure they have their man.
Looking into the camera, Hunter pontificates on the photo that had been on his door.
"This picture, as far as I'm concerned, is a divine intervention," he says. "And I have no idea where this picture came from, but the witness took this picture and he immediately picked out this suspect. And I'd like to think we had a little help from God himself."
Unfortunately, God subsequently dropped out of the investigation, and the three alleged eyewitnesses recanted. But not until after Coker spent nearly three years in jail. The recantations, along with the fact that prosecutors withheld police reports from Coker's attorney showing that investigators had information on another suspect, led the Harris County District Attorney's Office to drop the charge.
But "Straight Menace" is still shown on A&E, and the tragedy inflicted on this wrongfully accused man is only the latest injustice in this show's history. In Detroit, city police shot a seven-year-old girl in the head in a botched attempt to catch a suspect sought on The First 48. And in Miami, according to an analysis of court records done by our sister paper Miami New Times, 15 men have walked free after being charged with murder under the program's glare.
Evidence suggests that the television show puts undue pressure on police departments to hurry their investigations and make quick arrests. The wrongly accused have their lives ruined, all for a bit of reality entertainment. But The First 48 is one of the most popular shows on television, with millions tuning in every week. With ratings as seductive as this, what do a few mistakes matter?
Few jobs elicit greater esteem than a detective's. There's a cultural fascination with solving murders, manifested in the sheer number of TV shows that deconstruct homicide investigations. Crime television — from the endless stream of CSI spinoffs to Cold Case to Law & Order — accounts for nearly one-fourth of all prime-time television programming. This demand means production companies are constantly under pressure to expand upon the standard crime-television formula, according to a 2007 study titled "The CSI Effect." No channel is more bound to that effect than A&E. Over the past decade, the station has birthed a dizzying assortment of crime programs: Cold Case Files, American Justice, City Confidential, Investigative Reports, Crime 360 and The First 48, which first aired in 2004.
The narrative structure of The First 48 is both conventional and chronological, and nearly every episode begins with a murder. But the show's true genius lies in how it ratchets up the drama with an artificially imposed deadline.
"For homicide detectives," the narrator pronounces in a gravelly timbre at the program's start, "the clock starts ticking the moment they are called. Their chance of solving a murder is cut in half if they don't get a lead within the first 48 hours." Throughout the program, producers splice into the frame a ticking clock, and detectives may fret over their deadline. Dramatic tension mounts as investigators collect evidence, interview witnesses and identify suspects, until it hits a crescendo with a climactic confrontation between suspect and detective during the episode's final interrogation.
That same deadline pressure meant nothing but trouble for a 21-year-old Miami man, Taiwan Smart. On the night of November 13, 2009, gunshots broke out just before midnight on NW 77th Street in Little Haiti. At that time of night, neighbors would later tell police, they often hear gunfire. Usually, it's some jacked addict playing around like a fool. Other times, it's significantly worse. But in this Miami neighborhood, where nearly one in 60 is a victim of violent crime, you don't mess with someone else's business.
So when 18-year-old Ciara Armbrister ducked out of her one-bedroom apartment just minutes later, she wasn't worried. Wearing Spider-Man socks, she padded down the weedy alley behind her building toward the apartment of the teenager she'd recently started sleeping with. She knew 18-year-old Jonathan Volcy, confident and smooth, was a drug dealer. But so were a lot of people in this neighborhood.
Her mood darkened, however, when she saw Volcy's back door wide open. Strange, she thought. The back door's never open. She crept into the 500-square-foot apartment, cluttered with Moon Pie wrappers and baggies of coke. Peeking around the corner, she saw them: two bodies, face-down, drenched in blood.
Armbrister couldn't breathe, couldn't think. She had to get out of there. Moments later, she was pounding at the door of a neighbor, who put down his Xbox controller. Armbrister's socks, he noticed, were sopping crimson. "Somebody shot them boys!" she shrieked. "Somebody shot them boys!"
It didn't take long for the cops to arrive. Close behind was a camera crew from The First 48. In the double murder of Volcy and his 14-year-old housemate, Raynathan Ray, the clock was already ticking.
Under the camera's gaze, detectives quickly assembled a grisly assortment of facts. Seven bullet holes pockmarked the apartment. Four 9mm Luger bullet casings littered the floor. The side window was open six inches. Bloody footprints and shoe prints marked the white tile floor. Both victims had been killed by a single gunshot to the back of the head. Whoever executed the boys had been inside the apartment. This had been an "inside job," as the episode would later be named.
It was great television. And sure enough, within days, barely past the show's deadline, Miami police had their man. The missing roommate, 21-year-old Taiwan Smart — who'd been present before the murders but conspicuously absent afterward — surrendered to police at his mother's urging, was interrogated by them on November 17 and by November 18, 2009, was charged with two counts of second-degree murder. "What we have is a circumstantial case, but the circumstantial evidence that we have tells a strong story," Detective Fabio Sanchez said into the cameras as Smart was carted away in handcuffs. Sanchez paused. "It's a shame that these two victims, who were very young, had to lose their lives to a person who they thought was their friend."
The cops' case, however, wasn't nearly as strong as Sanchez made it sound. To lock up Smart — which they'd do for a staggering 20 months — the Miami police would grossly misrepresent witness statements and tell outright lies. They'd take an impoverished kid and destroy his character not only on the streets but on a national scale. Finally, they'd ignore the man who was fingered as the real killer.
During Smart's interrogation, the first hint that the cops weren't on his side arrived three hours in. "You're not telling us something, or else you're bending the truth," veteran Detective T.C. Cepero suddenly said, eyebrows plunging into a scowl. "We have all gathered a lot of evidence, and it talks."
"What are you talking about?" Smart gasped.
"The evidence talks," Cepero replied, telling Smart the shooter had been inside the apartment, where cops had collected four bullet casings. Plus, both men had been shot point-blank, in the back of the head. "Don't get into [a lie] you can't get out of."
"You think I'm lying?" Smart asked. He pleaded multiple times for a polygraph test. He sank his head in his hands. "You're trying to get me to say something I don't know."
"You're telling me a story you concocted, and it's bullshit," Cepero told him, asserting that if Smart's story had been accurate, the window would have been shattered. (Police evidence logs show the window had been open six inches.) "I believe the evidence ten times more. I'm calling you a liar because you're blowing smoke up my ass."
Sanchez leaned into Smart. "You know what the evidence is telling me right now?" Sanchez seethed. "That you're a fucking liar."
Eleven hours into the interrogation, when Smart realized he was going to jail for two murders, he wept uncontrollably. "I don't want to go to jail for something I didn't do!" Smart, now cuffed to the chair, begged Sanchez, who wrote in an arrest report that the youth's statements weren't "consistent" with evidence.
"I'm asking you," Smart wept. "Out of the decency of your heart, please help me! Please!"
But days later, at Smart's probable-cause hearing, when Miami-Dade Circuit Judge Jorge Cueto asked for harder proof linking Smart to the murders, Sanchez perpetuated the injustice.
The detective misrepresented his interview with Armbrister, who had repeatedly told investigators that the victims had argued with a "Spanish guy," not Smart. Instead, Sanchez told the judge: "She could hear [Smart and the victims] arguing over drugs and money."
Then, when the judge asked how Smart's story conflicted with the evidence, the cop distorted Smart's statement. "Smart claims the shooter shot through the window, killing both victims," Sanchez said, despite the fact that Smart had repeatedly claimed he did not witness the murders. "There is no evidence the shooting occurred outside. It occurred inside."
Hearing this, Cueto nodded and Smart, now formally charged with two counts of murder, was led away.
In Coker's case, his interrogation was downright anticlimactic.
Coker, who turned himself in once he found out investigators were looking for him, quietly but firmly denied his involvement — which is totally expected. At first, Coker said he was in jail at the time of the shooting — for evading arrest — but investigators pointed out that he had been released about 15 hours before Elizarraraz was killed.
Sheriff's detective Wayne Kuhlman and Sgt. Ron Hunter told him that witnesses had placed him at the scene. There was no question he killed 16-year-old Erik Elizarraraz.
But Coker wouldn't budge.
"Sir, why don't y'all just put me on a lie-detector test?"
The investigators said they were happy to give him a polygraph. Coker flashed a naive expression, as if he actually thought the test was going to make a difference.
"And then are y'all gonna leave me alone after that, after I give y'all what y'all want?" he asked. "Y'all not going to be asking me all these outrageous questions, trying to confuse me?"
He went on: "This is my life y'all are playing with — my life."
No, the investigators said: You shot him.
"I swear to God, from the bottom of my heart, on everything I love, sir, I was not there," he said.
It was like a broken record with this kid. It's something Kuhlman and Hunter have heard more times than they'd care to count. Coker might be trying his best to come off like a wide-eyed schoolboy, but he already had a record. And three witnesses put the gun in his hand.
It's like what Kuhlman said earlier in "Straight Menace," even before Coker turned himself in: "There will be people that will say, 'Oh, there's two lives messed up because of the other guy that's gonna go to prison for this,' but you know what? That guy messed his own life up."
Except, as it turns out, he didn't.
On February 10, 2012, ten days before the case was to go to trial, and 931 days after Coker went to jail, prosecutor Jill Foltermann began interviewing the three alleged witnesses. She incorporated the disastrous results in an affidavit, which states the following:
One witness, Andrew Nguyen, "'took a good guess' as to who he believed shot Erik Elizarraraz. Mr. Nguyen informed me that he did not actually witness the shooting because he was inside the apartment when the shooting occurred. He did not see who had the gun or who shot. [Nguyen] indicated that the person he picked was 'based on what his other friends had told him about' the shooter."
Another witness, Roberto Valdez, "indicated that he had been drinking beer, smoking weed and doing Xanax" on the day of the shooting. He told Foltermann "he did not recall what happened, and said that he did not see the shooter or the gun. He indicated that he did not recall giving the officers a description of the defendant, what he was wearing, or the gun...Mr. Valdez said that when he viewed the photo array that he told the officers he was not sure and was going to 'guess' and asked if he should continue...Mr. Valdez said that he wrote an abbreviated note at the bottom of the photo spread. The note, Valdez told the prosecutor, meant 'I'm probably wrong.'"
The last witness to help lock up Coker for three years, James Decastro, told the prosecutor that "when he viewed the photo array...he was not '100%' sure that the person he circled was the one that he observed shoot Erik Elizarraraz. Mr. Decastro said he was '50/50.'"
Turns out it was close enough.
"I couldn't believe they did that to me," Coker says. "It was like a torture that no one should have to go through in this life."
The First 48 no longer films Harris County Sheriff's investigations, according to HCSO spokesman Alan Bernstein. "By mutual agreement, the project was brought to a close last year in April or thereabouts after accomplishing the goal of showing the public some of the behind-the-scenes work done by our investigators," Bernstein explained in an email.
At the time of Taiwan Smart's arrest, there were several people detectives may have wanted to interview. One witness, named only "Christine" in the investigation's internal logs, said the killer had sought vengeance for a previous Little Haiti murder — a tale corroborated by Smart. Another witness, 40-year-old Wayne Mitchell, had heard that his friend's cousins were behind the killings.
Officers didn't investigate the leads.
Though the consequences of this lapse would be severe, other mistakes filmed by The First 48 — which has also shot in Detroit, Dallas and Memphis — have been substantially more tragic.
In Detroit on May 16, 2010, after First 48 videographers expressed a desire to achieve a "good show" and capture "great video footage," police stormed a duplex in an impoverished neighborhood, according to a federal lawsuit. It was past midnight. All the streetlights had suddenly gone black. The cops were hunting for a murder suspect. As cameras rolled and dogs bayed madly, city police fired a flashbang grenade through a front window.
"Police!" one officer cried. The grenade exploded next to a living-room couch where a seven-year-old girl, Aiyana Jones, slept. From the patio, a cop lowered a submachine gun and fired into the house, striking the girl in the head. Upon entry, however, the cops realized they'd raided the wrong house. Their suspect lived next door. The officer who fired the gun, Joseph Weekley, was indicted for manslaughter and awaits trial. First 48 producer Allison Howard pleaded no contest last year to obstruction of justice after she lied about "copying, showing, or giving video footage she shot of the raid to third parties," Detroit prosecutors said. The episode was never aired.
Each of the 113 cases filmed in Miami also still airs periodically — even those featuring men who later walked free of murder charges.
"I talked to a lawyer about suing, but there wasn't nothing we could do," says Frank Sands, who spent three years in prison on murder charges and hasn't found steady work since. "Because [The First 48] shows 'All suspects are presumed innocent until proven guilty' at the beginning of the program, they're covered."
A&E shirks responsibility for episodes that broadcast incorrect information, and spokespeople confess the channel doesn't re-edit or correct flawed programs beyond stating at a show's end that murder charges were dropped. "We simply film the investigations as they unfold," a spokesperson said. "Every episode states clearly that all individuals are innocent until proven guilty."
The closing statement has A&E covered legally, perhaps, but ethically? Miami Detective Fernando Bosch admitted under oath in 2011 that he has "play-acted" parts of investigations for The First 48 and couldn't tell upon later viewing which parts were staged and which were real. "Most of [the detectives] do things like that," he said.
More troubling still, the show highlights almost exclusively some of the most impoverished neighborhoods around the country. Nearly every person charged with murder belongs to the same demographic: young, male, black, urban, poor and without the resources to challenge a television conglomerate like A&E.
Defense attorney Marlene Montaner was appointed to Taiwan Smart's case. Reviewing the evidence in early 2010, she couldn't find any confessions, direct evidence or any person pointing the finger at her client.
"I remember just looking for someone anywhere saying he was the one who did it. You had one witness in which police misrepresented what she said, but that was it." She visited Smart the next day. His manner conveyed innocence, but who could be sure? She paid for his polygraph test, and he passed.
That's when she hired a private detective and scrutinized the police investigation. She says they found a "sloppy," "rushed" case that hinged on a contaminated crime scene and one witness who hadn't seen the murders. Police hadn't arrived at the NW 77th Street apartment until more than an hour after the murders, and by then, bloody footprints — none of which matched Smart's foot size — inked the cluttered space.
Detectives had also made a big deal of the bullet casings, claiming their presence inside the home refuted Smart's assertion that the shooter had been outside. But it's unclear from the investigation's log whether police ever thoroughly searched the apartment's grassy exterior for additional casings — a vital lapse. According to the logs, police discovered fewer casings than bullet holes, six of which had trajectories leading from the window where Smart claimed the stranger had shot.
But as weeks melted into months and months into years, nothing happened. Fabio Sanchez didn't release his lead investigator's report, which is necessary for trial, until after Smart had spent more than a year in prison. Smart, awaiting trial, was transferred to the Miami-Dade Stockade jail facility.
Then serendipity struck. Within the stockade are sprawling cells that house dozens of men at a time, and inside Smart's, a new inmate named Arsenio Carter arrived.
Day after day, Carter eyed Smart. "Aren't you the guy who's in jail for those two Little Haiti murders?" Carter asked Smart, according to court records filed in Smart's defense. Carter allegedly taunted Smart in front of other inmates.
On January 11, Carter pulled aside inmate Earnest Evans, 20, whom he knew from the outside. "I have a secret to tell you," Carter said, according to Evans's later testimony, and confessed to killing the two men and letting Smart get away. Eventually the secret got out, and Smart told his attorney, who quickly interviewed her client and Evans and shipped their statements to prosecutors. On June 6, 2011, Smart took two separate state-sponsored polygraph tests. An expert hammered him with questions for hours.
Ultimately, "Smart denied any involvement, and it was the opinion of [the expert] that he was being truthful," according to prosecutor Marie Mato's closeout memo.
Prosecutors summoned Sanchez and told him what had happened. Sanchez now "agreed [the state] could not prove their case, and it appeared Taiwan Smart was not the shooter," Mato wrote.
Sanchez was not reprimanded for his work on the case. The Miami Police Department has not apologized to Smart. A&E has continued to broadcast its First 48 episode featuring Smart. And Carter, who's since been released from prison, hasn't been seriously investigated by any other agency for his possible connection to the murders.
In the two years since his release from prison, Smart's luck hasn't turned. With a pair of murder charges on his record, he's struggled to find work or an apartment. He spent months living in a small motel room with his mom, uncle, girlfriend and two siblings — while supporting them with the $6.09 hourly wage he makes cleaning cars at the Busy Bee off Biscayne Boulevard. Now he and his family live in a claustrophobic apartment where they have neither kitchen sink nor stove, and the electricity flickers on and off.
Meanwhile, The First 48 has arrived at Season 13, and even today, nearly 1.4 million people tune in for some airings. But this season, the program hasn't featured Miami, though producers call the city the "face" of the show. Last year Police Chief Manuel Orosa asked the show's producers to donate $10,000 per episode to a local youth sports program that works with at-risk children, but they declined. So The First 48, which doesn't compensate police departments in any way, left Miami and now films in Broward County, Cleveland and Dallas. (Memphis and Detroit have also discontinued their relationships with the show.)
The families of the murdered never see a dime of the show's profits. Smart has filed a civil lawsuit against the City of Miami for false arrest and imprisonment. "Despite the police questioning of Taiwan for 15 consecutive hours," the lawsuit says, "and his pleas of innocence and his factual accounts, police were only concerned with closing the book on the crime within 48 hours to captivate the public with the expeditious crime-solving...It intentionally placed Taiwan as a remote second in importance to the pursuit of the First 48 marquee."
Cameron Coker's attorney, Vivian King, says she has repeatedly asked The First 48's producers to stop airing the episode now that Coker has been exonerated, but they decline. Producers refused to comment for this article.
When "Straight Menace" aired in March 2010, viewers howled for Coker's execution. "Put him down," Cams2guilty wrote in an online forum discussing the show. "They got the death penalty in Houston?" Another commenter posted: "Anyone who watched this episode and came to any conclusion other than Cameron Coker killed Erik Elizarraraz must have a mental illness. Every bit of evidence pointed at Coker, and two seasoned Harris County detectives interrogated him. People who say otherwise are the reason murderers walk free to kill again." Holly Morris, a blond suburban mom, gushed on Facebook, "The First 48 is by far the best show on TV...I love it!!! Goes to show why murderers should NEVER be let out!!!"
Coker says he fears eventual retribution for a crime he didn't commit.
"Just imagine the image they made out of me," Coker says. "Even when I walk places I've never been, people know me from The First 48 without really knowing what happened."
In a review of 22 other Houston-based episodes of the series, Miami New Times found only one other instance in which a suspect was charged and jailed before the case was dismissed: Keegan Maull spent 21 months in jail on a murder charge before the alleged eyewitness who helped put him there changed his story. (One of the other episodes involves charges against two defendants who are still awaiting trial.)
Erik Elizarraraz's murder remains unsolved.
Good article but misleading title. Sadly, a lot of detectives are satisfied sending people 20 years in jail based on hunches and appearances.
I can't believe anyone is sticking up for these criminals. If most of them were white we wouldn't hear a word from any of you. Just because witnesses are too scared of 'snitching' and testifying doesn't mean the police didn't do their job. They work with what they have. I've seen this episode and it's obvious he did it. All these young black thug murderers we see on this show have ruined their own lives. Don't blame it on a tv show. If they were law abiding tax paying hard working citizens they wouldn't have been looked at in the first place. Trying to say the show ruined this mongoloid's life is insane. What you thug supporters aren't mentioning is most of these thugs would shoot you down for a dime. Yet you people talk like it's just a case of mistaken identity and the cops are racist. But since the kid is black he's innocent and the cops are racist. I love this show and respect the hell out of the Harris County homicide cops. Thank God they're around to combat murderers-white or black. This is like the old Trayvon case. He beat the crap out of George Zimmerman but no one mentions that. Again it's not if he's innocent but if he's black . You people are the racists not the cops doing their job.
I know cameron n that wasn't even the whole Interview its not about skin color I'm white. He is a very nice respectful guy. Yea may have messed up with a weed case but weed n murder... no totally different love my boy cameron. ♥if u disagree it really doesn't matter cause he is home
Maybe Harris County Sheriffs should be going after those whom they can prove have committed crimes, instead. Namely, there are federal judges and some locals who committed felony crimes it seems, but not one arrest or indictment yet. This is all in a case of a white man whose career was ruined after he refused to practive illegal discrimination against blacks and men apparently at a big local NPO. The judges allowed known perjury to stop the case without a jury trial, very illegally. See my FB page for more info, as the Obama admin. also seems unwilling to prosecute or do anything despite proof via court documents of various felony crimes that took plave in Harris County and elsewhere. This is at a time when lots of blacks are unemployed. The man involved had been hiring students of PV A&M, which is a traditionally black university. My page has a link to a few websites with some of the court documents showing evidence of felony criminal acts. Also on my FB page is info links showing the man has sent a letter and affidavit about the crimes to U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder and the DOJ about having sent previous messages for help against the corruption but to no avail. This is bad. This is very bad. Holder and President Obama took oaths to uphold the Law and Constitution, and both are over the federal court system and judges. They should be impeaching them, not covering for them -- if that is what they are doing. Is someone blackmailing them or pulling strings behind the scene to prevent even them from acting?
This article is as biased as they purport the TV show to be, go and watch the episode, and tell me if you'd like this kid roaming around in your neighbourhood. Does witnesses recanting their testimony mean that someone is innocent, or does it mean the witness has been go to by the defendant? We'll never know as this case won't be going to court. When 1 witness changes their mind, we can conclude that they just aren't sure, but when several change their minds it makes us think that there is a another power acting upon them. A&E don't commit the murders, they just film the aftermath, if you lived in these mostly poor deprived areas you'd want the police around trying to catch these mostly young men, and keep them off your streets. The job of the cops is made that much harder by the stupid no snitching policy enforced by ppl who don't have the best interest of the majority of the folk at heart. Don't get me wrong, I have lived, live, in very poor deprived neighbourhoods, and I know most of the time the cops ain't your friend, but surly when it's the murder of a young kid it's a different matter. The cops can only work with what they have, most of the homicide cops seem to be a breed apart from the rest, if the years of watching the 1st 48 are anything to go by. They don't have it all their own way, the defence council of the accused usually gives them a very hard time, and rightly so, it's about the only way justice can be served, if an innocent person gets convicted, it just means the defence haven't done their jobs, or the cops have lied on purpose, and if the cops have lied then they should be prosecuted too.
this article is as biased as they purport the TV show to be, go and watch the episode, and tell me if you'd like this kid roaming around in your neighbourhood. Does witnesses recanting their testimony mean that someone is innocent, or does it mean that they have been go to by the defendant? We'll never know as they case won't be going to court, when 1 witness changes his mind, we can conclude that they just aren't sure, but when several change their minds it make us think that there is a another power acting upon them. A&E don't commit the murders, they just film it, and if you lived in these poor deprived areas you'd want the police around trying to catch these mostly young men, and keep them off your streets. The job of the cops is made all the more hard from this stupid no snitching policy enforced by ppl who don't have the best interest of the majority of the folk at heart. Don't get me wrong, I have lived, live, in very poor deprived neighbourhoods, and I know most of the time the cops ain't your friend, but surly when it the murder of a young kid it's a different matter. The cops can only work with what they have, most of the homicide cops seem to be a breed apart from the rest, if the years of watching the 1st 48 are anything to go by. They don't have it all their own way, the defence council of the accused usually give them a very hard time, and rightly so, it's about the only way justice can be served, if an innocent person gets convicted, it's just means the defence hasn't done their jobs, or the cops of lied on purpose, and if the cops have lied then they should be prosecuted too.
Lol @ all 3 witnesses not testifying... Hmmm, I wonder why?? Now the taxpayers get to pay the settlement so this monster can walk free. I guarantee he will be in some form of the DOC in less than 3 years. Witness intimidation and a subsequent failure to raise charges does not mean innocent, it just means the streets got the witnesses. Have fun feeling sorry for the poor gangster drug dealer.
This is outrageous! In our day of DNA and forensics why is so much credence provided to eyewitness accounts alone?! More to the point, why why WHY is this not headline news instead of the inane fascination of something like "Justin Bieber" who is given not one, but four headlines for CNN and other primary news outlets like it? People's lives are being ruined!!! How can A&E get away with it and keep showing the episodes?! I wish I was a lawyer-i'd class action lawsuit their ass. As it is, I'll have to settle for "voting with my dollar"---I won't buy another A&E product as long as I live. And yes, I will tell ALL my friends. Bastards!!!!
I saw this episode when it first aired and googled his name a few times following the show to see when his court date was. They sure did make him seem like a horrible human being and guilty as hell.
ummm...wasn't this already published, weeks ago on a sister site?http://www.miaminewtimes.com/2014-01-16/news/the-first-48-makes-millions-off-imprisoning-innocents/
@JQ127 Who is sticking up for the criminals??? This article is sticking up for people who are wrongly accused on sub par investigations - otherwise called the innocent.
@a.mackay90 The mere fact that your argument states: would you like those kids around your neighborhood shows that you are more interested in prejudice than justice.
The only people I feel "sorry" for is the sad, diluted people who watch A&Es "docu-drama" masquerading as "entertainment." Its rubbish at the expense of others suffering. I also feel empathy for our hard working detectives who are politically pressured to make a quick arrest with overwhelming caseload and under funding. And NO I don't think someone who is found "not guilty" is the same as innocent--but one of the gr8 things about our system is that we don't imprison people who cannot be found guilty beyond a reasonable doubt....AND though you may be right in your prediction about the likelihood of this person's future with the DOC, it is by no means "guaranteed." For those kind of "guarantees" go to Russia or North Korea.
@marquse1 @a.mackay90 Yup guilty as charged I am prejudiced against violent, gun toting, disenfranchised thugs is that a problem? Unlike most white, middle class educated people, I couldn't give a damn if people think I am a racist, as long as me and my family are safe that's all I care about. The race card is played with such regularity these days that it has ceased to have any meaning, apartheid era South Africa or 1950s Deep South USA that's racism, wanting to live in a safe neighbourhood isn't. I think that now a days the race issue has become counter productive anyway, when you have an automatic bogey man to blame for everything it takes away the need to accept responsibility for your own actions, and I can't think of any circumstances were that is a good thing.
@marquse1 I am sure you are a nice person and your heart is in the right place, but you aren't too good at constructing an argument, you are jumping to conclusions instead of reaching them. You are letting your own prejudice shine thru, as I have never mentioned colour once, so it's yourself who obviously assumes that I am talking about black folk when I say violent thugs. You also I assume I have no sympathy for the ppl featured in the First 48. We can argue back and forth all day long and it won't change the tragedy that lies behind nearly every case featured on the show. Yes most of the offenders are of colour mostly black or Hispanic, most are young and nearly all are male, but there is 1 thing that every single one of them as in common and that is poverty. That is the real tragedy that in a rich country like the USA with all it's opportunities that there are 16 year old kids who are so disenfranchised, can see absolutely nothing in their lives are so jaded at that young age that they think it's OK to use AK-47 in residential areas without a thought to what it might do to other people, how can this happen in a country like the USA? IMO it's partly to do with racism, partly the fact that the USA doesn't have an effective social welfare system and partially to do with the gun laws, there are plenty who will disagree with me, but there has to be some reason why the USA has such a high murder rate compared to other G7 countries. Having said all that my original point stands, I don't want to bring my kids up in a neighbourhood like that, no one should have to live like that. Nice talking to you BTW, keep safe and peace.
@a.mackay90 @marquse1Now that you have admitted that you are predjudiced you can work on admitting that you are ignorant: not all black disenfranchised people are criminals. If you are not concerned about who goes to jail: the innocent or the guilty - all your arguments about protecting Americans are moot.