She told police she knew her teen neighbor had broken into her home to try to kill her by turning the gas on her stove on because she recognized his voice. She was saved, she said, by her barking dog Yolanda, who she also said used her paws to dial 911.
The case sounded unbelieveable - but the Philadelphia District Attorney's Office proceeded with the case, charging Maria Colon's neighbor Tomayo McDuffy with attempted murder and related charges in the May 3, 2013, incident.
But today, they dropped charges, saying Colon failed to identify McDuffy's voice in a recent voice lineup. In a statement, the District Attorney's Office credited the Daily News with highlighting problems in the case last year, leading them to drop charges.
Here's the statement from District Attorney Seth Williams:
"Today my office withdrew charges against Tomayo McDuffy that arose from an alleged home invasion last year in Northeast Philadelphia. Although the original charging decision was appropriate based on the evidence then available, further information has now persuaded us that the evidence is not clear enough to warrant a trial. This was a highly unusual case involving an apparently blind complaining witness, a service dog, and conflicts among neighbors and family members. The original incident dates to May 2013. The complainant reported that two men had broken into her home in the middle of the night, that she recognized one of them by his voice as her next-door neighbor, and that her dog scared off the intruders and fetched her phone to call 911. Police responding to the scene found that the basement door had been forced open and that gas burners on the stove had been turned on."
Williams continued: "In July 2013 an article in the Daily News raised questions about the victim's account, quoting neighbors on the block and estranged relatives of the victim. The following week the judge reduced bail, but allowed the case to proceed. In September 2013, the defendant made bail and was released from custody. Trial was accordingly scheduled for the fall of 2014. A request for a voice identification lineup was withdrawn by the defense in October of 2013. New counsel entered an appearance for the defendant in December 2013, and provided us with a packet of information in May 2014. We followed up on that information, and eventually developed additional evidence raising substantial concerns about the victim's prior history and visual acuity. A new voice lineup was held this month, resulting in a misidentification."