Murder suspect says car proves innocence

August 20, 2008 2:47:55 PM PDT
A murder suspect was in court in New Jersey Wednesday. But his supporters say police have the wrong man, and they claim they can prove it.In fact, the suspect says there's no way his car was near the scene of the crime, because he wrecked it the month before. And there are pictures to back it up.

Twenty-two-year-old Peter Labrada says he is no murderer.

"It's horrifying," he said. "It's something I wouldn't want anyone to go through. It's a nightmare."

Labrada was arraigned Wednesday morning for the murder of 28-year-old Eduardo Campos last year. He pleaded not guilty.

Campos and his friends argued with another group of men across the street from Club XL in Newark around 3:15 a.m. on May 20, 2007. Campos was shot and killed as he tried to leave the scene in his car, and a witness reportedly told police he saw Labrada speeding away in his silver Mercedes.

Labrada and his family say that is impossible.

"My son totaled his car," mother Lisset Stripe said, holding up a poster. "This is my son in an accident on April 23, 2007."

Labrada says he was involved in a five-car crash a month before the shooting, and that his Mercedes was totaled. They say the company that leases the car had already taken it away.

But a grand jury handed down an indictment six weeks ago.

"The grand jury had enough information to believe they had probable cause that we have charged the right person," Essex County assistant prosecutor Christopher Lu said.

Neither prosecutors nor police would disclose any other evidence they may have against Labrada.

"I'm innocent," Labrada said. "It wasn't me. They got the wrong person."

He is due back in court in October.


STORY BY: New Jersey reporter Toni Yates


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