|Published:||Aug 24, 2010 3:25 AM EDT|
|Updated:||Aug 24, 2010 12:26 AM EDT|
NORTH PORT, Fla. - Charges have been dropped against a man accused in the 2008 hit and run death of a man in Port Charlotte, because prosecutors say they can't find the key witnesses.
Ralph Loosman was arrested in February in the death of Alex Teehee. Loosman was due to face trial this week, but without the witnesses, the State Attorney's Office says it was legally obligated to drop the charges.
It's meant more heartbreak for Teehee's family, who have been waiting for justice for two years.
"If they did all this work for two years, all the evidence we have, all down the drain," said Teehee's mother, Carol. She says it feels as though her son was killed again, learning the man charged with his death will walk free.
"We feel like we've been let down, and our son has been let down," said father Tab Teehee.
Alex Teehee was hit by a car on a Port Charlotte street in July of 2008. His family had to wait a year and a half before Ralph Loosman was arrested and charged with vehicular homicide, only to wait several more months to find out the trial isn't going to happen.
"It's just unbelievable how much proof they say they have to have," Carol Teehee said. "It's almost like they have to have a confession."
The State Attorney's Office says it tried for a month to track down the witnesses, but without them, prosecutors couldn't continue.
"You wonder, how did it happen? Why was there not a plan of attack?" asks Teehee's sister, Jana Thompson.
"It's really hard at this point to have faith in the system that's already let us down," said Tab Teehee.
The Teehee family believes the missing witnesses were there the night of Alex's death.
Despite the dropping of the charges, the family says they're not going to give up.
"I will fight for the rest of my life," said Jana Thompson. "There is no statute of limitations on murder. And I will do everything I can to make sure those boys pay for what they did to my brother."
A spokesperson for the State Attorney's Office says prosecutors are disappointed the case can't go forward after two years of work; but if the witnesses are found and are willing to cooperate, they will explore charges in the Teehee case.