Authorities have dropped criminal charges against a teen accused of attacking an 81-year-old outside of a Walgreens, after cellphone data showed he was in a completely different city at the time the assault occurred.
The Ramsey County Attorney's Office dismissed assault and aggravated robbery charges against Isaiah J. Foster on March 18, writing in a court filing it "cannot prove the charges beyond a reasonable doubt." The teen had been charged in connection with a high-profile attack outside of a St. Paul Walgreens on Dec. 23, 2021, in which a suspect was caught on video snatching a purse from the victim.
During the incident, the victim fell, hit her head and suffered both a concussion and a brain bleed.
Police shared video of the attack and days later Foster's mother turned in her son, saying the suspect in the footage looked like her son and was wearing a coat her son also owned.
It now appears she was mistaken, with security camera footage and cellphone location data showing Foster was nowhere near the St. Paul Walgreens when the woman was assaulted.
The Ramsey County Attorney's Office told Bring Me The News its decision to dismiss the charges is "based largely" on mobile phone evidence that put him in Richfield at the time. The office also acknowledged Foster's mother "no longer believes it was him."
"If any new information about this horrific incident comes to light, we will update the public and the police investigation is continuing," the attorney's office said.
Foster's defense attorneys argued as much in a Feb. 8 court filing, in which they said the teen was "wrongfully charged." Among the evidence they laid out:
- The St. Paul Walgreens attack happened at 1:47 p.m.
- Video shows Foster at a Walmart in Bloomington as late as 1:17 p.m. the day of the attack
- Additional video from a Bloomington Walgreens puts Foster there as late as 1:25 p.m.
- Both locations are at least a 25-minute drive away from the St. Paul Walgreens "with good traffic"
- Employees at the St. Paul Walgreens saw the suspect in the parking lot about 10 minutes before the attack (so around 1:37 p.m.)
- In the videos, Foster is wearing blue jeans with distinctive decals, a black Guess jacket and brown shoes — while the suspect in the Walgreens attack has on white jeans with no decals, brown slippers and a black Guess jacket
- Foster's mother, a county probation officer and a third person positively ID'd the person in the Bloomington videos as Foster
- Foster's mother has "affirmatively" disavowed her original identification of her son as the man seen in the Walgreens assault video
"It is important that the facts should always guide our decisions in the criminal justice system and not emotion," the Ramsey County Attorney's Office said in its statement Monday, citing the evidentiary process as "the first line of defense to ensure the integrity of our convictions and to avoid wrongful ones."
The St. Paul Police Department told Bring Me The News the investigation into the Walgreens attack is open and active.
Foster, however, is currently facing separate criminal charges in Hennepin County. In one case (filed Jan. 31, 2022), he's accused of taking part in a violent carjacking in Minneapolis on Dec. 24, 2021, in which a woman was assaulted at knifepoint while a group of four took her car keys and the car keys of a neighbor.
In another (charged March 14, 2022), prosecutors allege Foster took part in two robberies on Dec. 28, 2021, both at gunpoint and involving a " semiautomatic handgun with a drum-style magazine": The first one outside a restaurant in Northeast Minneapolis, the second on a residential street just a couple blocks away. Both crimes also involved a BMW reported stolen out of St. Paul.
Together, Foster faces four counts of aggravated first-degree robbery, one count of third-degree assault, one count of fleeing police in a motor vehicle, one count of auto theft, and one count of theft — all felonies.
He's currently being held in Hennepin County Jail.