An innocent man narrowly avoided jail time — all thanks to a selfie, KVUE is reporting. Christopher Precopia was going about his day while working in a lumber yard on September 22, 2017, when he was arrested. Precopia didn’t have a clue as to what his charges were until later on — he was accused of breaking into a woman’s home in Temple and slicing an “X” onto her chest with a box-cutter. This woman happened to be an old high-school girlfriend’s of Precopia’s, one whom he hadn’t communicated with in years.
Precopia was eventually held at Williamson County Jail on charges of burglary of a habitation with the intent to commit other crimes. He was released after having posted $150,000 bail. Still, Precopia was in a world of trouble, and insisted that he was innocent of the crime which he was being accused of.
“I had no idea why everything was happening, and I was lost,” he recalled.
Fortunately for Precopia, he had evidence on his side. His accuser claimed that the incident had happened on September 20, 2017, at 7:20 pm. Conflicting with her story were selfies that Precopia had taken with his mother and loved ones at a hotel in Northwest Austin, an entire 65 miles from the accuser’s home. These pictures were posted to Facebook, and timestamps and geo-location showed that it would be impossible for Precopia to have committed the crime he was accused of. His mother, Erin, recounted her thought process during this tumultuous time.
“I’m thinking, ‘this is awesome. By the grace of God, she said it happened on the day when I can say totally, 100 percent, where he was at,'” she shared.
As for the authorities involved, they agreed that the selfies were a solid alibi for Precopia.
“Most of the time, we deal with gray matters,” revealed attorney Rick Flores. “It’s not normally black or white. But this is one of those cases where I could definitely prove he did not commit this offense.”
In 2017, Christopher Precopia was charged with a felony he knew he hadn't committed. https://t.co/QOplSXu1QR
— 12NewsNow (@12NewsNow) November 13, 2018
Flores was able to get the charges dropped “in the interest of justice” nine months later — after presenting the evidence. Other authorities involved admitted that this case was not handled the way that it should have been. Typically in these cases, the suspect should be interviewed to see if he has an alibi before moving to arrest him. Phone records showed that Precopia had returned a call to the police station — and had even left a message — but was still arrested anyways.
“You may not get any more information than you had, but it gives you an opportunity for the suspect to react, respond, deny,” said Bruce Mills, a former Austin assistant police chief and policing consultant. “Certainly a case where the suspect appeared to be available, it would be more step [sic] you could take.”
Temple Police have not owned up to mishandling the case, but Bell County District Attorney Henry Garza stated that the police “are always willing to listen and examine new information.”
It turns out the woman reported that Precopia assaulted her solely due to their dramatic high school relationship. Propecia is looking forward to leaving that relationship — and the entire incident — in the past.
“I’m ready to actually live my life, the way I want to, without having any kind of worry that this can come back and hurt me,” he said.