Marqus Profic may have gone to prisondue to a broken system.
Marqus Profic may have gone to prison due to a broken system. He hasremained there for 18 years in part because few have put up the fight deeminghim unworthy because of his run ins with the law as a teen. This is the storyof a 16-year-old young Black man who got 28.5 to 57 years for a crime he couldnot have committed.
The Victim: Angel Rodriguez
On that night, Angel Rodriguez and his cousin were driving back to theGetty Mart in Reading, Pennsylvania. They’d just come from there where they’dbought two dime bags of cocaine only to get home and find out they were soap.Now, they were going back to get their money. As they drove around the back ofthe store near Greenwood Street, they saw two men. Angel stopped the car, gotout, and walked around the back to the passenger side to confront the two men.One of them pulled his left hand from behind his back and extended his arm.Bang! Bang! Mr. Rodriguez died at a local hospital soon after.
On the same night, blocks away
Marqus Profic, a 16-year-old boy, had snuck his girlfriend over to thebasement of his mother’s house. His mother wouldn't allow girls in the housewhen she wasn’t at home, so he usually went over to see her. However, daysearlier, Marqus had suffered a gunshot wound to his leg and couldn’t walk well.His sister, who had to do laundry in the basement, was angry at them becauseevery time she walked downstairs to switch the clothes, his girlfriend wasthere with him, breaking their mother’s rules. She had been sneaking in everynight to see him.
It was almost midnight. It was almost Christmas Eve.
All of a Sudden…
Months later, while incarcerated on a lesser, unrelated charge, MarqusProfic heard about Angel Rodriguez’s murder. The next thing he knew, he wasbeing tried.
At trial, none of his alibi witnesses were called, and the primarywitnesses against him were individuals who had the most to lose if they didn’tput the police onto someone else.
Marqus Profic was convicted of third degree murder.
This is a case with glaring inconsistencies.
- The ballistics don’t match. The only person who saw the suspects up close didn’t identify Marqus out of a photo array, saying “None of the males in the photo array were involved in this shooting.” Witnesses say that the suspects ran from the scene of the crime. But Marqus had gotten shot in the leg days before and could barely walk, let alone run. Witnesses lied to police, trying to conflate two separate instances.
- Not to mention, the shooter was likely left handed. Marqus is right handed.
- What is more, the description of the shooter does not match Marqus at all. The description is for a Black male who’s dark skinned. Marqus’s skin is light brown.
The only evidence against Marqus was information from a small group offriends who had everything to lose had they not thrown the cops onto Marqus.Oneof those people was Ceferino Hernandez, a drug dealer whose runners weresuspected of involvement with Mr. Rodriguez’s death. Another was his bestfriend who allegedly owned the gun that killed Mr. Rodriguez. Had they gonedown for his death, there was a chance that he would have too, if they’d made adeal. But even within the small group’s narratives, there are blatant gaps andcontradictions.
It all began...
when an officer was canvassing the neighborhood, interviewing those wholived near the crime scene.
At one residence, they interviewed an individual who fit the descriptionof the shooter, lived near the Getty mart, dealt drugs there, was noticeablynervous when talking about the shooting, and got caught lying while policequestioned him.
We know that the officer was suspicious because he wrote the person’sdescription in the report: “[He] was wearing a doo-rag on his head and hasdreadlocked style hair that is about shoulder length. He is dark-skinned, about6’6.”
The individual fled to New York right after police spoke with him. Hisgrandmother told police what had happened after they'd questioned him. One ofhis friends “came running in the house and was worried.”
He told her grandson that a detective was just at his house, and hewanted to know what they’d told the police, asking, “Oh shit, did you sayanything?”
Her grandson later tried to use her as an alibi witness, saying he’d beenhome all night with her and an uncle named “Elijah,” watching a video called“New Jersey Drive.” But the grandmother denied being with him or even knowingwhere he was on the evening of Mr. Rodriguez’s death.
She also said that she did not know anyone named Elijah who had visitedher house.
Almost three weeks later, a confidential informant talks to police andnames Marqus Profic as the shooter who killed Mr. Rodriguez. His source forthis information was the grandson’s friend who had come running into thegrandmother’s house, asking what they’d told police.
The informant ended by giving police the names of two other individualswho supposedly had information to share about the shooting. However, when policespoke with the first person, he nervously denied knowing anything. When theyspoke with the second person, he told them that he’d heard about the shootingfrom the grandson who’d fled and his friend. They’d contacted him after policequestioned them and told him that police would probably question him too. He’dwondered why. He told police that if either individual tried to use him as analibi witness, he was not with them. He talked about how the grandson had been“upset” about being questioned, and he told them that the grandson’s friend hadtold him who had shot Mr. Rodriguez. It was the cousin of the person they’djust interviewed who’d denied knowing anything.
There is no indication that police ever spoke with this potential suspector that they had seriously considered the grandson or his friend.
Ceferino Hernandez (and his connectionto the weapon that killed Angel Rodriguez)
Approximately two weeks after this conversation, a local inmate namedCeferino Hernandez reached out to police through his attorney and said he hadinformation. He said that Marqus had confessed to him that he had killed AngelRodriguez. Hernandez said that his best friend had found the gun in the snowbehind his girlfriend’s house and that his friend had sold the gun. On the sameday, his best friend’s girlfriend reached out to police and told them that herboyfriend wanted to talk. He too said that Marqus had confessed to him and thathe had found the gun in the snow and sold it. As police interviewed other closeassociates of Hernandez and his best friend, the version of events continued tochange and contradict their statements.
Officers finally interviewed the girlfriend of Ceferino Hernandez. In herstatement to police, she contradicted Hernandez’s comments about Marqus Proficand did not corroborate his or his best friend’s version of events. Police thenshowed her photographs of some of the people they’d interviewed. She identifiedsome as individuals who dealt drugs for Hernandez. One person she identifiedwas the grandson’s friend—the one who ran into the grandmother’s houseafter police questioned them. Another witness identified the cousin of thealleged shooter as someone who was part of a small friend group with Hernandez.
Then, in one key statement, a person who had been present for the sale ofthe gun that had allegedly killed Mr. Rodriguez said that the gun had actuallybelonged to her grandfather and that her mother had stolen it and sold it toHernandez’s best friend (who also implicated Marqus) for two dime bags ofcocaine. She suggested that the best friend was the owner of the gun up untilhe sold it to one of her contacts. She made no mention of Marqus.
What’s more, Ceferino Hernandez has recanted, admitting that he hadfabricated his testimony and statements to authorities and orchestrated otherstatements against Marqus. Hernandez told the truth to someone he wasincarcerated with. That person filed an affidavit, detailing Hernandez’scomments.
This is a case that highlights not only problems in the American criminaljustice system but problems in society. The sheer “theater” of the trial ratherthan evidence being the backbone of this case showcased approximately a dozenuniformed officers walking into the courtroom together within eyesight of thejury.
It truly is the manifestation of guilty until proven innocent; the storyof a Black person in America.