Friday, October 4, 2013
Out for Justice: Michelle Coleman/Anthony Smith
Three hundred people were at a block party in Overtown when gunfire erupted, injuring 12 people and killing two innocent bystanders. Some witnesses identified one gunman and he was arrested, but now he is free. Why? The answer's in tonight's Out for Justice with Patrick Fraser.
WSVN -- Michelle Coleman was a student at Florida A & M.
Andresa Prater, Michelle's mother: "She loved kids. She was going to school to be an RN so that she can work with babies."
Anthony Smith was a high school football star with big dreams.
Tarisha Monrose, Anthony's aunt: "We always had a plan that he was going to make it to the pros and we was going to get a big house on a hill."
Michelle and Anthony didn't know each other, but on July 6, 2009 they were at a block party in Overtown.
Miami Police Detective Rick Martinez: "What was supposed to be a small party in front of the house evolved into 300 plus."
Mixed into the crowd of 300 people, rival gangs who started shooting at each other.
Detective Rick Martinez: "These poor innocent people are caught in the middle."
Twelve innocent people were shot. Ten survived. Michelle and Anthony died.
Detective Rick Martinez: "We arrested a young man by the name of Rodney Miller, and based on witness testimony, he was one of the people that was shooting."
That was in 2009. For four years, as detectives looked for the other shooters, Miller sat in the county jail, waiting to go on trial. Then in August, the Miami-Dade State Attorney's Office dropped the charges against Miller.
Detective Rick Martinez: "When I was told about the decision by the State Attorney's Office, I mean, I had to bite my lip."
The reason he walked out of jail...
Detective Rick Martinez: "All of a sudden there was 10 or 12 people at the police station at the front door saying, 'I was there and I want to say this.' Well, why didn't you come forward that day?"
Call Detective Martinez skeptical.
Detective Rick Martinez: "We poked holes in their stories, but now we have to deal with the fact that a case is deteriorating. The witnesses have been -- I'm going to tell you right now -- the witnesses were tampered with."
Martinez is frustrated. Anthony and Michelle's families are fuming.
Andresa Prater: "I'm very hurt. I'm mad, I'm upset, I'm disappointed at the state attorney."
But the Miami-Dade State Attorney's Office says they had no choice. Spokesman Ed Griffith wrote, "Miller's attorney has provided numerous witnesses who contradict the testimony of our key witnesses against Miller. Being unable to refute the defense witnesses, we were forced drop the charges against Rodney Miller."
Griffith added, since there is no statute of limitations on murder, the case remains open, and Detective Martinez remains determined.
Detective Rick Martinez: "We're going to try our hardest to make something happen, and if we get some new information, then we can refile charges against the person that was arrested in this case."
Three hundred people were at the party. Detectives will tell you, in that Overtown neighborhood, it's no surprise that most of them saw nothing.
Andresa Prater: "'It was too many people for no one to say, you know, 'I didn't see nothing.'"
Tarisha Monrose: "I heard everybody knew who shot up the party. They knew it was twins by the name of Reggie and Rodney."
Andresa Prater: "I know that somebody knows something. It's probably heavy on their hearts, they've been holding it in for years."
Tarisha Monrose: "Can't just get away with killing, with shooting up a party, killing two people. Well, three, because Michelle was pregnant."
That's right. The day she was killed, Michelle found out she was pregnant, so three lives were lost that day. Four years have gone by. Hundreds of people who saw what happened have said nothing. If you care about your friends, your neighbors in Overtown, if you want to let some killers get what they deserve, give Miami-Dade Crime Stoppers a call at 305-471-TIPS.
And if you have lost a loved one, give us a call, to remind people your search for justice will never end. With this Out for Justice, I'm Patrick Fraser, 7News.
FOR MORE INFORMATION:
Out For Justice
Miami-Dade: 305-598-HELP (4357)
Broward: 954-796-HELP (4357)