Posts Tagged ‘Anthony Caravella’


Anthony Caravella Celebrates 4th Anniversary of Exoneration

Hannah Beery — March 25, 2014 @ 9:29 AM — Comments (0)

Today, Anthony Caravella celebrates four years of freedom. On March 25, 2010, he was exonerated of the 1983 rape and murder of a 58-year-old woman in Broward County. At the age of 16, he was sentenced to life in prison.

Caravella was arrested a month and a half after the crime occurred when he did not appear in court for a juvenile auto theft charge. He gave four statements implicating himself of the murder, all of which were different and inconsistent with the physical evidence. Less than a year later, Caravella was convicted with no physical evidence, based solely on his story. Nearly 26 years later, DNA proved that Caravella did not rape the victim.

For the last two years, Anthony has been working for his uncle’s construction company in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida, and is planning to attend IPF’s STAND UP FOR INNOCENCE,a night of comedy benefitting the Innocence Project of Florida, on April 12th. Congrats Anthony!

Hugging-Dianne1

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Florida exoneree Anthony Caravella awarded $7 million in damages

Jessica — April 10, 2013 @ 3:33 PM — Comments (2)

Florida DNA exoneree Anthony Caravella walked out of prison in March of 2010. Almost three years later, he has been awarded $7 million in damages. He spent 26 years in prison for a crime he did not commit.

After his exoneration Caravella filed suits against the four police officers that investigated his case and were, at least in part, responsible for his wrongful conviction. Almost 3 years to the day of his exoneration, The Sun-Sentinel stated,

“Eight jurors unanimously found former Miramar officers George Pierson and William Mantesta liable and awarded Caravella a total of $7 million in damages against them after a five-week trial in federal court in Fort Lauderdale.

Jurors found that Mantesta was most to blame and ruled that he should pay Caravella a total of $4 million — $1.5 million in compensatory damages and $2.5 million in punitive damages for his actions.

The jury awarded $1 million in compensation and $2 million in punitive damages — a total of $3 million — against Pierson”

Anthony is one of many exoneree’s seeking compensation for their  miscarriages of justice. As more details of these cases, such as Anthony Caravella’s, come to light those involved in the wrongful conviction are being accountable for their actions.

The article continued as Caravella stated,

“I feel good that it’s over with,”said Caravella, now 44. “I feel like it took a long time but I’m just glad that everybody knows what happened — that’s what I feel good about.”

“I have to say I finally believe in the system,” Caravella added. “I was worried. I was afraid they were going to get away with it.”

It’s comforting to know that someone who has been mistreated by the system has learned to have faith in it. The progress towards a better criminal justice system is a long process but as more people become accountable, the hope for a better system grows.

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RSVP to Step Out for Justice with IPF

Chelsea — April 11, 2012 @ 12:28 PM — Comments (2)

RSVP today to reserve your spot to step out and support the innocence movement and sponsor fairness in our justice system. The evening will feature a special VIP reception where you’ll get to meet and speak with some of Florida’s exonorees, a magnificent silent auction, dinner with keynote speaker Professor Larry Marshall, an awards ceremony, and more.

Buy your ticket for justice today!

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William Dillon to Perform at IPF’s First Annual Gala

Chelsea — March 28, 2012 @ 1:23 PM — Comments (2)

Can you imagine losing decades of your life to punishment for a crime you did not commit?

Florida’s 13 DNA exonerees don’t have to imagine; they know just how it feels to serve time for crimes that they had nothing to do with. At Steppin’ Out with the Innocence Project of Florida, IPF’s first annual gala, you will get to hear the stories of these amazing men. Amazing, inspiring, and horrifying – the stories that they have to offer are the best proof that our justice system is broken and needs to be fixed.

William “Bill” Dillon is one of Florida’s DNA exonerees, and he will share his stories through song with a performance at this special event. Dillon learned to play guitar while serving 27 years for a murder he didn’t commit and released his first album, Black Robes and Lawyers, in 2011.

Reserve your spot today to step out for justice and hear these inspiring men share their stories.

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Steppin’ Out with Florida’s Exonorees

Chelsea — February 28, 2012 @ 5:56 PM — Comments (2)

Steppin’ Out with the Innocence Project of Florida is your opportunity to meet many of Florida’s exonerees who spent two or three decades wrongfully imprisoned for crimes they did not commit. Chat with them one-on-one at the VIP reception. Hear their inspiring stories of hope and perseverance.

You’ll get to know Derrick Williams, Alan Crotzer, Orlando Boquete, James Bain, William Dillon and others.  Learn what life is like after exoneration for them and their families.

William Dillon will perform several songs from his CD including Black Robes & Lawyers.  He wrote all of the songs on the CD during his 27.5 years of wrongful incarceration.

Buy your tickets today and step out for justice for the many others remaining in prison yet completely innocent.

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Is “Possible” the Standard for Prosecuting Teenage Suspects?

Susan — December 02, 2011 @ 5:51 PM — Comments (0)

The word “outrage” seems woefully inadequate in these cases. Let’s start with Anthony Caravella. Sun-Sentinel.com (Paula McMahon) reports that Mr. Caravella, who was then all of the age of 15 and mentally challenged, served 26 years for someone else’s crime — the 1983 rape and murder of Ada Cox Jankowski, a prostitute. But despite four exculpatory DNA tests that freed him, an apology from a judge, and the existence of evidence pointing to a different perpetrator; the city of Miramar and the Broward County Sheriff’s Office (BCSO) still maintain his guilt.

Said Jamie Cole, Miramar’s lead attorney, who called the DNA tests “irrelevant…The issue here has nothing to do with those DNA tests. If someone else’s semen was there [in the victim's rape kit] that doesn’t mean Anthony Caravella didn’t also rape her. It’s possible.”

The City and BCSO are the defendants in a civil suit Caravella and his lawyer have filed seeking damages for his long and wrongful incarceration. City police, BCSO employees, and former investigators were guilty of framing Caravella, lying to him, hiding evidence, and withholding DNA testing results says Caravella’s attorney, Barbara Heyer.

“Despite this clear evidence, the (city and Sheriff’s Office) have and continue to make the spurious argument that (Caravella) wasn’t innocent, he had simply not ejaculated at the time of the rape. The evidence proves that this statement is patently false,” Heyer wrote. “Anthony Caravella is an innocent man who has been wrongfully incarcerated for 26 years as a direct result of the misconduct of all of the defendants. The misconduct continues to this day.”

Commented Caravella, “I just can’t believe they’re saying that.”

Neither can we, Anthony.

Move this scenario to Chicago where Cook County State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez continues to insist that the Englewood Four (who were teens in 1995 when they falsely confessed to the rape and murder of Nina Glover) are guilty even after a Cook County judge overturned their convictions. Those convictions were based on signed confessions even though primitive DNA testing excluded the four. Subsequent testing in 2010 not only excluded them; results matched a man police had interviewed at the crime scene with a suspicious profile to boot named Johnny Douglas.

As Alvarez continues to fight to affirm the Englewood Four’s conviction, she presents an intriguing scenario. Douglas had unprotected sex with Glover, left her unharmed, and she was later raped and murdered by the four teenagers. “He [Douglas] didn’t kill every other prostitute he was with,” Alvarez told the New York Times. “DNA evidence in and of itself is not always the ‘silver bullet’ that it is sometimes perceived to be,” she declared. She chooses to believe Detective James Cassidy who prosecuted the teenagers.

It turns out the Detective has an interesting past. It seems he took a murder confession from an 11-year-old in 1994 (African American child and Caucasian female victim) that was later tossed out by a judge who said coercion was involved and ordered the child’s record expunged. Cassidy was at it again in 1998. This time the two “perpetrators” were seven and eight-year-old African American boys who apparently confessed to the killing of an 11-year-old girl, Ryan Harris. The charges were quietly dropped when semen was discovered in the little girl’s underwear.

Yet more youthful convictions were overturned two weeks ago when five Chicago men were exonerated in the 1991 rape and murder of a 14-year-old girl. They had “confessed” but were proven innocent through DNA testing. The 1989 Central Park jogger case follows this same troubling pattern.

Questioning Alvarez’s actions in his HUFF POST CHICAGO article, David Protess, President of Chicago’s Innocence Project, notes, “But even if we take Alvarez at her word on this subject – ‘As a prosecutor, I have a duty to the victims in this case’ — then what is her duty to the Englewood Four? Haven’t they been victimized for seventeen years? Re-trying these young men, an option Alvarez is considering, would compound the injustice and waste taxpayer’s dollars.

The system made a tragic mistake. It’s time for Alvarez to confess it.”

It’s also time, I would suggest, to stop hounding Anthony Caravella. It’s also time for certain prosecutors to do the right thing, say they’re sorry, and stop coercing (some would say beating or torturing) false confessions out of teenage suspects who “might” be guilty. Our constitution demands better than that – way better.

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Exoneree Compensation Roundup

Seth — February 22, 2011 @ 4:04 PM — Comments (0)

Lots going on in the world of compensation for exonerees.  This issue regained some traction in the last few weeks with an article in the Orlando Sentinel, which we discussed here.  This has led many to openly question why so many guys who were so clearly wrongfully convicted and incarcerated won’t be compensated. The editorial staff of the Orlando Sentinel, notes in an editorial entitled Florida’s Dirty Hands:

Sure, it’s a tough budget year for Florida. But what a lame excuse for failing to right a terrible wrong.

Three years ago, the Legislature passed a bill authorizing payments for people who are wrongly convicted and sent to prison. The measure designated payments of up to $50,000 for each year they were erroneously locked up. That’s a pretty fair price for wrongfully denying someone their liberty.

The problem is the so-called “clean hands” provision — a provision which, as the Orlando Sentinel reported Sunday, has meant that none of the 12 men cleared by DNA has received a nickel. Some now live in poverty.  The “clean hands” provision bars the state from paying anyone who has a previous felony conviction prior to the wrongful incarceration. Even if the person served his time for that earlier conviction, then was later wrongly imprisoned for decades for a crime he did not commit, he still can’t collect.

What a glaringly obvious injustice.

Fred Grimm, of the Miami Herald, has a much more bombastic take on this law:

All this talk about compensation for wrongful convictions. Not in Florida. Not for the likes of Anthony Caravella.

Why, it’s Caravella who owes Florida — $71.93 a day. Comes to $682,615.70 for the 26 years Anthony mooched room and board off the Florida penal system, taking up valuable prison space for a crime someone committed.

The lousy freeloader. He’s damn lucky the Florida Legislature doesn’t send him a bill.

. . .
Florida did pass a Victims of Wrongful Incarceration Compensation Act three years ago, after an embarrassing slew of convictions were reversed, most after DNA testing. The law authorized paying innocents $50,000 for every year spent behind bars. It was an “illusory impact,” said Seth Miller, director of the Florida Innocence Project. Miller said the law included a “clean hands” provision that disqualifies a wrongfully convicted prisoner with a prior felony conviction.

“Clean hands” proved to be brilliant money saver for Florida (the only state with such a proviso). Cops don’t find their patsies on the membership rolls of the chamber of commerce. Miramar police knew Caravella from a string of juvenile offenses – the same crimes that now preclude him from compensation.

None of the dozen convicted men cleared by DNA testing in Florida have received compensation. A Sun Sentinel reporter found several afflicted with poverty, living off food stamps. Caravella had spent time in a homeless shelter. Only one, James Bain, who did 35 years of hard time, qualifies under “clean hands” and will likely get his money.

After all, William Dillon, who did 27 years on a trumped up murder conviction, had been busted in 1979 for possession of a single Quaalude. Of course, he’s out of the money. In a Kafka-like twist, Orlando Boquete, who did 13 years for a murder and robbery he didn’t commit, doesn’t qualify because he managed to escape prison while serving his wrongful sentence. Luis Diaz, the so-called Bird Road Rapist of Miami-Dade County who, as it turned out, wasn’t, did 25 years. Sorry, Luis. No money.

The list goes on; ruined lives for whom wrongful incarceration compensation remains an illusionary concept. Sorry guys but fairness . . . that’s a budget buster.

Fred makes the good point that these victims of wrongful incarceration don’t have any political clout.  They don’t have money to hire a lobbyist and they don’t have powerful backers with influence.  Without that, there is little chance for the law to be changed to give them some redress.

Two additonal points on compensation:

  • James Bain did a sit-down interview with Channel 10 news in Tampa (w/ video), which led to questions of the new Attorney General about why her office had been sitting on his application for compensation for the last five months.  Not surprisingly, a little scrutiny moved things along and it looks like Mr. Bain’s compensation will be paid imminently.

  • However, it is not all good news for exonerees seeking compensation.  Texas exoneree Anthony Graves, who spent 18 years in prison for a crime he did not commit, will not receive his compensation for wrongful incarceration because of a simple error in the order exonerating him.  Even though the prosecutor, defense attorney, and judge all agreed that Graves was “actually innocent,” these magic words required by the Texas compensation statute, were omitted from the judge’s order.  His lawyers are trying to remedy this but they are getting little help from the prosecutor or the Governor.

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Caravella Follow-Up

Seth — March 30, 2010 @ 3:50 PM — Comments (0)

Paula MacMahon of the Sun Sentinel has a good follow-up story that touches on Anthony Caravella’s options for redress and some of the misconduct in hsi case.  Anthony was exonerated of a 1982 rape/murder last week after the state’s own DNA testing confirmed exonerative DNA results release in September 2009.

On getting redress for his wrongful conviction and incarceration, the article states:

Caravella has three options but none of them guarantee he will receive any money. He could file a civil suit against law enforcement or he could ask the state Legislature to give him restitution. Or he may qualify, under the state’s Victims of Wrongful Incarceration Compensation Act, for $50,000 per year that he was locked up – about $1.3 million.Caravella’s public defender, Diane Cuddihy said her client should be compensated for what happened to him. “He went in as a child and he came out as a 41-year-old man; I think society owes him a great deal,” Cuddihy said.

Dianne is obviously right.  Anthony had his life stolen from him at sucha  young age.  he deserves fair redress.  As the article points out, though, there are several options, none of them are guaranteed and they all have different risks.

If Anthony wants to go through the Wrongful Incarceration Compensation law, he would have to elect to do so within the very short time period of 90 days from his exoneration.  It is not even clear that he would be eligible under the law.  But if he is, considering the State agreed to his exoneration, he would likely prevail and get roughly $1.3 million, which is $50,000 per year of wrongful incarceration.

If he doesn’t qualify, he could get a legislator from both houses of the Florida Legislature to file a claims bill by August 1, 2010 for consideration in the 2011 legislative session.  he would probably be limited to the same amount as he could receive under the compensation statute and passage would clearly depend  financial and political climate that exists at the time of consideration.

A lawsuit may be a real option in this case, especially considering some of the clear misconduct:

The problems include the alleged mishandling of the case by Miramar police officers, now retired, and the key role played by a former Broward Sheriff’s Deputy Tony Fantigrassi, who was involved in other cases that resulted in exonerations, according to court records.

Fantigrassi testified that Caravella made his first self-incriminating statement during an unrecorded interview when the two were alone. The interview was the second of five statements Caravella gave. The other four were taped by Miramar police detectives and include several inconsistencies between what Caravella said and what the physical evidence showed.

Fantigrassi also was a key player in (Jerry Frank) Townsend’s conviction in the 1970s. He testified that Townsend led detectives to the murder scenes and provided details that only the killer would know. DNA later proved that another man committed those crimes.

A federal judge ruled that Fantigrassi’s testimony and theories were “implausible” in 2002 when he testified to try to uphold Tim Brown’s conviction for the 1990 murder of Deputy Patrick Behan. The judge ruled, on several grounds, that Brown was “actually innocent” of the crime and threw out the conviction.

Fantigrassi, who retired as a major in 2005 during the faked crime statistics scandal at the Sheriff’s Office, did not respond to messages left at his business Friday.

Cuddihy said she is “very concerned about what went on in that interview room between a 15-year-old mentally challenged child [Caravella] and Fantigrassi.”

Townsend, a mentally challenged man who spent 22 years in prison for several murders before DNA exonerated him,  won $4.2 million in settlements from the Broward Sheriff’s Office and the city of Miami for Fantigrassi and others using Townsend to close unsolved murder cases.

The prosecutor and cops in Caravella’s case had a pattern of helping to wrongfully convict innocent individuals.  Hopefully, someone (an Innocence Commission maybe) willfully uncover this pattern and hold these folks responsible.

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26 Years Taken Away, But A Whole Life Ahead

Seth — March 25, 2010 @ 2:39 PM — Comments (0)
Anthony caravella Hugging his Lawyer Dianne Cuddihy after being Officially Exonerated on March 25, 2010

Anthony caravella Hugging his Lawyer Dianne Cuddihy after being Officially Exonerated on March 25, 2010

Wrongful conviction vacated; charges dropped; Anthony Caravella’s nightmare officially over; the first day of the rest of his life:

A judge apologized to Anthony Caravella in court Thursday morning and threw out his conviction for rape and murder and the life sentence imposed for those crimes.

Caravella, 41, served more than half his life in prison before being exonerated by DNA testing.

“May I take this opportunity to apologize to you on behalf of the state of Florida,” Broward Circuit Judge Thomas Lynch told Caravella as he tossed out the conviction.

The courtroom burst into spontaneous applause.

‘I wish you luck,” the judge told him.

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Anthony Caravella Officially Exonerated!!!!

Seth — March 25, 2010 @ 9:18 AM — Comments (1)

Anthony caravella Walking out of Court in September 2009 (on right)

Anthony caravella Walking out of Court in September 2009 (on right)

Broward prosecutors will step into court this morning with Anthony Caravella and his lawyer Dianne Cuddihy to ask that Caravella’s conviction and life sentence be thrown out (with video):

Final DNA results released Wednesday completely exonerate a Broward County man who served 26 years in prison — more than half his life — for a rape and murder, his defense attorney said. Broward prosecutors will ask a judge Thursday to throw out his conviction and life sentence, freeing him of restrictions imposed since he was temporarily released from prison on Sept. 10.

“I never had any doubt that Anthony was innocent,” said Diane Cuddihy, the public defender who worked for nine years to free him. “The shocking thing is that an innocent man can be convicted like this.”
. . .

“It’s over,” Caravella told the Sun Sentinel in a phone call minutes after he learned of the DNA results. “I’m OK now.”

Anthony was convicted for the 1983rape and murder of a 58 year-old-woman in Miramar, FL.  Anthony had an IQ of 67 and was prone to falsely confessing to crimes he didn’t commit (he had been used by law enforcement to close unsolved burglary cases).  this time they chose to use him to close this murder case.  He gave several inconsistent statements that were treated as confessions and used against him in court even though there was no physical evidence to connect him to the crime.  He was convicted and received a life sentence after the prosecutor, Robert Carney, sought the death penalty.

In 2001, Dianne Cuddihy from the Broward Public Defender took on his case and got him DNA testing at the Broward Seriff’s office wlab which did not achieve a result.  New DNA testing in 2009 at a Forensic Science Associates, a private laboratory in Richmond, California obtained the result that showed semen and sperm left on the victim during the rape/murder on the victim was not from Caravella.

Prosecutors released Anthony conditionally in September 2009 pending their own confirmatory testing.  That testing was finished yesterday and confirmed that Anthony is actually innocent and spent 26 years in prison for a crime he didn’t commit.

You can read more on Anthony’s case by clicking here.

Just so there is no confusion, IPF played the most minor of roles in this case (assisting Caravella’s attorney with some issues surrounding the DNA testing and assisting with some pleadings).  IPF wishes to congratulate Anthony and his family, and his attorney,  Dianne Cuddihy who has been fighting to achieve this moment for Anthony for the last 9 years.

IPF has been assisting Anthony Caravella to transition well into free society since he was released in September 2009.  If you would like to contribute to our Emergency Exoneree Fund, which helps Anthony and other exonerees who have not yet been compensated, you can kindly do so by clicking here.

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