Cristopher “CJ” Precopia very nearly spent the rest of his life in prison after being accused of assault by his ex-girlfriend.
The woman, who despite obviously reporting a false crime has still not been named or charged, claimed Precopia broke into her house and attacked her with a box cutter, slashing an “X” into her chest. Based on her story and the cleanly sliced “X” on her chest, Precopia was arrested.
The 21-year-old Williamson County, TX, man told KVUE News he was confused when he was arrested on September 22, 2017 at the lumber yard where he worked. He couldn’t remember when he last spoke to the woman, whom he had dated years earlier in high school.
"I had no idea why everything was happening, and I was lost," he told KVUE.
Precopia was taken to the Williamson County Jail, charged with burglary with the intent to commit other crimes. He faced 99 years in prison. His parents paid his $150,000 bond plus thousands more in legal fees to clear his name.
The accuser said the attack happened on September 20, 2017 around 7:20 p.m., but Precopia’s mother, Erin, knew her son wasn’t even in town that night. He was with his mom at a Northwest Austin, TX, hotel — about 65 miles away from where the alleged attack happened.
And Erin had proof. She had taken a selfie with her son that night and posted it to Facebook. The photo was time-stamped and geo-located, proving Precopia was nowhere near the woman the night of the alleged attack.
"I'm thinking, 'this 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," Erin said.
The family also had sworn affidavits from people who were with Precopia that night.
"Most of the time, we deal with gray matters," Precopia’s attorney, Rick Flores, said. "It's not normally black or white. But this is one of those cases where I could definitely prove he did not commit this offense."
It took nine months for the charges against Precopia to be dropped. His accuser told police she made the accusation because the two had a difficult relationship years ago in high school.
Now, more than a year later, Precopia told KVUE he was ready to move on.
"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," he said.
Precopia was not given the opportunity to respond to the accusations against him before he was arrested. Police reports, viewed by KVUE, show he returned a police phone call and left a message. But no one spoke to him before he was arrested and sent to prison with his future on the line.
"We are always willing to listen and examine new information, and that's exactly what we did in this case," said Bell County District Attorney Henry Garza.
Perhaps if they had spoken to Precopia and done even a basic investigation before arresting him they would never have had to file charges or upend a young man’s life in the first place.