Cristopher Precopia was charged with a terrible crime, but he didn’t know what it was or when it happened.
As KVUE News reports, on September 22, 2017, the 21-year-old from Williamson County, Texas was arrested at his workplace and taken to jail. According to the Washington Post, when Cristopher asked police why he was being arrested, he was told, “Don’t act like you don’t know.”
But the young man didn’t even know where the county that had issued a warrant for his arrest was located. Charged with burglary of a habitation with the intent to commit other crimes, Cristopher was facing 99 years in prison. And he had no idea why. He told KVUE:
“I had no idea who accused me of this. I had no idea why everything was happening, and I was lost. I was constantly fearful as to what could happen the next day. I was going to sleep hoping I wouldn’t wake up, just to get away from it.”
Slowly, the story came out. A woman whom Cristopher had dated in high school claimed he had forced his way into her home in Temple, Texas, punched her in the face, and pinned her down while slicing an “X” into her chest with a box cutter. She told police that she “could hear the slices being made.”
Cristopher knew he hadn’t done it — he couldn’t even remember the last time he had seen the woman. But that wasn’t enough to save him. Police had conducted an investigation and built a case against him based on the accuser’s testimony.
He spent more than a day in jail while his parents took out loans to get the money for his $150,000 bond. Once freed, the family got a lawyer and set out to prove Cristopher was innocent. Meanwhile, the prospect of life in prison hung over the young man. He told KVUE, “That’s what I was scared of most. Just going to prison for no reason.”
As he prepared to defend his client, Cristopher’s attorney, Rick Flores, obtained the police reports and got a clearer picture of what Cristopher was being accused of. That’s how he found the information that would end up exonerating his client: the date and time of the attack.
Cristopher’s accuser claimed the attack had occurred on September 20 at 7:20 p.m. That’s when Cristopher’s mother, Erin, remembered that her son had been at an event with her that evening. What’s more, she had proof. Erin’s love of social media was about to save her son. She told KVUE:
“Thankfully, I do log on to Facebook all the time, and I check in when I go places.”
Erin had checked in and posed for a selfie with her son at 7:02 p.m. at the Renaissance Austin Hotel — about 65 miles from the accuser’s home. It was impossible for Cristopher to have been at the hotel at 7 p.m. and get to the scene of the crime 20 minutes later. Erin added:
“I’m thinkingThis 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.’”
A forensic expert confirmed that the photo, timestamp, and geo-location were legitimate. With the new information, prosecutors dropped the charges, acknowledging that they no longer believe he did it.
Cristopher knows that he was lucky his accuser stated that particular date and time. Had she claimed the attack happened on another day, he might still be fighting the charges. Flores told the Post:
“He was very fortunate that she chose a date and time that he just happened to have a rock-solid alibi for. He and I have talked many times about how lucky he is, whether you believe in a higher power or good old-fashioned luck.”
The accuser later told police that she and Cristopher had a rocky relationship in high school, citing that as the reason she filed the assault report against him.
Temple authorities did not respond to media requests for comment on how the investigation and case were handled. However, Cristopher’s family say they don’t blame the police. They’re more concerned with the woman who made the false accusation. Flores told the Post they’re considering a lawsuit against her:
“We’re more upset with this person that blatantly made up a lie and got him in this mess to begin with.”
Though Cristopher has been exonerated, he still has to clear his name. Only a month ago, he was turned away by an Army recruiter because of the charges on his record — that decision is currently being reviewed. Flores explained to the Post that the false accusation will follow Cristopher for a long time:
“While [his family] is happy it ended up with a dismissal, and that it will be expunged from his record, the damage is kind of done. Nothing will ever be completely scrubbed from the Internet.”
Cristopher, however, is ready to move on and put this behind him. He told KVUE: “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.”