Two weeks ago, Anthony Caravella’s was released from prison based on DNA results that prove he is not a rapist and a killer. Anthony falsely confessed to the murder of a 58-year-old woman after multiple coercive and suggestive interrogations. Complicating the matter is Anthony’s diminished mental capacity which made him more prone to falsely confess.
On the heals of that, Broward has finally settled a law suit filed on behalf of Jerry Frank Townshend, a gentleman who spent 22 years in prison for mutiple rapes and murders that DNA testing proved were committed by serial murderer Eddie Lee Mosely. Members of the Broward Sheriff’s Office knew that Townsend was severely mentally retarding, that he had the mental capacity of an 8-year-old, and that he would confess to anything. With a rash of unsolved murders (committed by Mosely), the stakes were high and cops used Jerry to close these cases knowing he would falsely confess to crimes he didn’t commit.
Jerry will received $2 million from Broward and he already settled with the City of Miami for $2.2 million for their role in all of this. Congrats to Jerry and his team for this win.
Hopefully these law suits will be a signal to law enforcement and municipalities that they must take remedial measures must to prevent coercive and suggestive interrogations that lead to false confessions. One way to do this is to video record the entirety of the interrogation so we can look at the nature and quality of the interrogation when judging the credibility and reliability of a subsequent confession. It is an easy fix, yet one that gets a lot of push back from institutional actors.