Posts Tagged ‘Jerry Frank Townsend’

Today in Wrongful Conviction History: June 15

Alejandra de la Fuente — June 15, 2016 @ 10:00 AM — Comments (0)

Happy exoneration anniversary Jerry Frank Townsend and Angel Echavarria!

Jerry is a Florida exoneree who spent 22 years in prison for a rape and several murders that he did not commit, despite having the mental capacity of an eight year old. He was exonerated in 2001 after DNA testing implicated another man by the name of Eddie Lee Mosley, who was also implicated in the case of another Florida exoneree, Frank Lee Smith. Read more about Jerry’s case here.


Angel was exonerated in Massachusetts last year with help from the Schuster Institute for Investigative Journalism at Brandeis University.


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Steppin’ Out with Florida’s Exonorees

Alejandra de la Fuente — 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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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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Broward Pays Up

Seth — September 22, 2009 @ 10:03 AM — Comments (0)

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.

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