A grand jury will soon decide if the prime suspect in the disappearance of Danielle Brown should be charged with her murder.
The deputy state attorney says there is enough evidence to pursue an indictment against ex-boyfriend Elijah James even without Danielle Brown's body.
Deputies in two states trudged through woods, landfills, ponds and plantations searching for any sign of Danielle Brown. The 21 year old is presumed dead, her disappearance dubbed a homicide. Her body has never been found, but the state attorney's office says it is ready to seek a murder indictment against Brown's on-again, off-again boyfriend Elijah James.
"We often proceed cases to trial without having every piece of evidence. For instance, we often proceed on murder cases where we don't have the murder weapon. So, we're often able to prove that something happened without actually having every piece of the puzzle," said assistant state attorney Jack Campbell.
Brown's family is thrilled. Her sister told us "It's a long time coming." She says she's "confident in the evidence" and doesn't want James to get away with it simply because no one can find Danielle's body.
FSU Law School Assistant Professor Reid Fontaine says it's unusual to pursue murder charges against someone without finding a body, but it's not unheard of.
""A lot of these cases have been successful with convictions," Fontaine said, "generally, these cases are not brought unless there's an abundance of circumstantial evidence."
Fontaine says the big risk in a murder case without a body is if a jury eventually aquits someone, there's no going back, even if they later find the body and definitive dna evidence to prove he or she did it.
"If there is an acquital, then that defendant cannot be tried again, they're protected by double jeopardy," Reid said.
Prosecutors say there is no harm in asking the grand jury to review the evidence against Elijah James.
If the grand jury decides there's not enough to go to trial, prosecutors say they'll continue to work on the case, gather evidence and try again.
Prosecutors intend to present the case to the Leon County grand jury next month. An exact date has not been set.
Elijah James, meanwhile, remains in jail in Thomasville ... where he is facing arson charges for torching Brown's car. He has denied any involvement in her disappearance.