DNA Frees Buffalo Man Charged with Murder

July 20, 2013 Updated Jul 20, 2013 at 4:12 PM EDT

By Kendra Eaglin

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July 20, 2013 Updated Jul 20, 2013 at 4:12 PM EDT

(WKBW)
Buffalo, NY

Today 23 year old Charles Tubbins walks the streets as a free man but his recent four month stay in jail on second degree murder charges are not far from his mind.

It was a crime Tubbins says he never committed.

"You can't imagine the feeling. There's no way you can bear that type of pain," said Tubbins.

Tubbins was a point guard for the the Buffalo 716ers, a semi-pro basketball team, but his life changed forever on November 12, 2012.

Rashiene Carson was shot to death that day at a Getty Gas station on Ontario Street.

It was a gas station Tubbins visited many times in the past but maintains he was not there the day of the killing and says his cell phone records proved it.

"My cell phone wasn't bouncing on the towers in the area of that crime," Tubbins explained.

Not only was Tubbins using his cell phone at the time the murder he was just getting out of basketball practice and on his way to a team bowling event.

"I couldn't be texting a paragraph message and committing a crime and getting out of basketball practice at the same time it's not possible I couldn't be all those places at once," he explained.

Despite those facts Tubbins was arrested and charged with 2nd degree murder after witnesses identified him in a photo line up.

But the shooter left his DNA evidence behind on the door handle of the victim's car. It did not belong to Tubbins and he was eventually exonerated of all charges.

But how is that more than one witness identified Tubbins as the trigger man when he wasn't even there?

Paul Cates of The Innocence Project says mis-identifications are behind more than 75 percent of wrongful arrests.

"What happens is that the witness picks up signals and often times these can just bee very inadvertent signals not even intentional from the officer at all but they pick up signals and based on those signals that leads them to pick the wrong person," said Cates.

The Innocence Project is trying to change the laws surrounding photo line ups nationwide so that the person administering the pictures does not know who the suspect is. So far that practice has not been adopted in New York State.

Tubbins hopes his story shines a spotlight on the justice system and holds them accountable for doing more thorough investigations.