Where’s my pancakes, read Rodney Bradford’s Facebook page, in a message typed on Saturday, Oct. 17, at 11:49 a.m., from a computer in his father’s apartment in Harlem.
At the time, the sentence, written in indecipherable street slang, was just another navel-gazing, cryptic Facebook status update — words that were gobbledygook to anyone besides Mr. Bradford.
But when Mr. Bradford, a skinny, short 19-year-old resident of the Farragut Houses, was arrested the next day as a suspect in a robbery, the words took on a level of importance that no one in their wildest dreams — least of all Mr. Bradford — could have imagined. They became his alibi.
His defense lawyer, Robert Reuland, told a Brooklyn assistant district attorney, Lindsay Gerdes, about the Facebook entry, which was made at the time of the robbery. The district attorney subpoenaed Facebook to verify that the status update had actually been typed from a computer located at 71 West 118th Street in Harlem, as Mr. Bradford said. When that was confirmed, the charges were dropped.