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Daytona Beach: 68-year-old woman falsely accused of jewelry theft

Earlier this month, a 68-year-old grandmother was arrested, charged with grand theft of more than $20,000 dollars, and sent to jail. Police said she had stolen a $54,000 ring from a Daytona Beach jewelry store and replaced it with a $10 fake. She had been identified as the thief by a clerk at the store.

She posted $10,000 bail, and then spent a sleepless night worrying about her fate. It took two days before the truth came out: the woman was innocent.

She had been misidentified by the store clerk, who was given a fake name by the real thief. The woman was exonerated thanks to security camera footage that proved she was not responsible for the theft.

In this case, the woman was very lucky to have the charges dropped after just two days. If the security camera footage had been missing or inconclusive, she could have had a very difficult time facing the charges. The real thieves were apparently familiar with the woman, and were readily able to provide the woman's personal information to the store clerk. Had the case gone to trial, things could have gone badly for the woman.

This story shows how important it is for judges, juries and attorneys to question and examine all evidence and testimony before allowing a determination of innocence or guilt to be made. In this case, the accused woman bears no physical resemblance to the thief in the film, suggesting that the clerk's testimony was wildly unreliable. A skilled criminal defense attorney would be able to find and expose such weaknesses in a prosecutor's case, proving the woman's innocence.

Fortunately, the woman was exonerated after only two days. The owner of the store has also expressed his deep regret at the false accusations that were leveled at the customer. Calling her "A very lovely lady," he promised to pay her $1,000 restitution, by way of apology.

Source: The Daytona Beach News-Journal, "Police to drop charges against woman accused of stealing ring, official says," Katie Kustura, Nov. 8, 2012

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