Happy Exoneration Anniversary to Anthony Caravella!!
When a 58-year old woman was sexually assaulted and killed in early November of 1983, the police had no leads as to had perpetrated this terribly violent crime and thus had made no arrests. Almost two months later 15-year old Anthony Caravella was arrested on an unrelated charge. Caravella was known to law enforcement as someone who had been in trouble for theft crimes in the past. The police also used Caravella to close cases that they could not solve because they knew they could get him to convince even when he was not guilty based on his IQ of 67.
Over five days Caravella gave four written and one oral statement all completely different from each other. These statements were made after coercive and suggestive interrogations from law enforcement and the details he gave contradicted what police knew about the factual evidence of the incident. Police physically and psychologically abused Anthony and gave more and more leading, suggestive, and manipulative questioning in order to yield a full confession of guilt from Caravella despite his confessions continuing to negate the physical evidence of the case. Because of this confession, Anthony Caravella was indicted for first-degree murder and battery.
The prosecutions entire case essentially relied on the confession that Anthony gave as they had no other real evidence against him. This confession was still enough to convict Caravella of first-degree murder and sentence him to life in prison.
In 2001, Caravella sought DNA testing from several swabs taken from the victim. But, Broward County Sheriff’s Office Crime Lab submitted a report that they did not obtain a DNA profile from any of the slides. In 2009 orders for DNA testing were submitted again but this time to be done by a separate independent lab. A perpetrator was identified from the tests that conclusively excluded Anthony. Caravella was subsequently released with an ankle bracelet on conditional release while the state was allowed to confirm the results of this DNA test. After the state finally confirmed the DNA results, Anthony Caravella was officially exonerated on March 25, 2010.