Benjamin Marcus Raucher, age 22, was arrested in Miami, Florida for two different robberies where the attacker is said to have fondled his victims after stealing from them. Raucher is facing charges for armed robbery with a knife, burglary, and battery.
According to police, the “M.O.” of the attacker in each case is the same. Essentially the victim would be accosted, money and valuable would be demanded, and then the attacker would fondle the victim. In one case, the attacker tore off his victim’s shirt and exposed her breast. In the other case, the attacker is said to have fondled the woman’s breast and butt before fleeing on foot.
Since Raucher has been arrested for both offenses, defense lawyers are expected to focus their attention on whether or not the victims can positively identify Raucher as their attacker.
For instance, were the victim’s presented with a photo line-up. If so, was it presented objectively or did the police do anything that was suggestive? Were the people in the photos similar to Raucher or were they totally different?
Was Raucher presented to either victim and asked “Is this the guy?” As one can imagine, this is the most suggestive form of identification.
Ultimately, the victims will be required to make independent in-court identifications of Raucher when they testify at trial. Without a positive identification, prosecutors will not be able to meet their burden.
Undoubtedly, defense lawyers will question the victims before trial during depositions and ask them details about their attacker’s identity. How tall? How short? Skinny? Fat? White, black, latino? Was his skin tone light, medium, or dark? Did he speak English or another language? If English, was he a native speaker or did he have an accent? It he had an accent, what language did it resemble?
What kind of clothing did he wear? Was his appearance neat or disheveled? Was he clean looking or dirty?
Did he have long hair or short hair? What about facial hair? Any eyeglasses or sunglasses? Did the attacker have any unique features like an odd scar or tattoo?
Ultimately, before a conviction can be had, the victims will need to positively answer these and other questions. At the end of the day, the similarity in cases is just one factor for a jury to consider. Just because these crimes are similar, does not mean they were committed by the same person.
Before any concrete conclusions can be drawn, defense lawyers and prosecutors alike will need to review all the police reports, witness statements, and other evidence. At this point, it is still too early to determine how strong or weak the prosecution’s case may be or if any defenses exist that may shape how this case unfolds.
Regardless of what happens with these cases, we hope that the victims recover from what was undoubtedly a very scary and traumatic experience.