Tuesday, September 8, 2009

DNA Testing Once Again Clears Wrongly Imprisoned Man

Mentally retarded suspect was coerced into confession, defense says

After serving 26 years in prison, it appears that Anthony Caravella did not rape and murder a 58-year-old woman in 1983.

A recent DNA test determined that the 41-year-old mentally retarded man with an IQ of 67 did not ejaculate his sperm into the victim.

So now Broward prosecutors are planning to ask a judge to release him under some form of supervision, according to the South Florida Sun Sentinel.

Defense attorneys were not surprised by the findings, claiming the then-15-year-old boy was coerced into a confession. In fact, he gave five contradictory confessions before police were satisfied with their evidence.

Prosecutors were so confident he was guilty they demanded the death penalty. But the jury voted against it.

The DNA found on Ada Cox Jankowski belongs to a still unidentified man. Investigators plan to run it through local and national databases to see if they find a match.

This is not the first time DNA has cleared a mentally disabled man who served time in prison after questionable confessions for rapes and murders committed in South Florida.

In 1993, schizophrenic John Purvis, 52, was released from prison after serving nine years in prison after DNA cleared him of murdering a mother and her baby.

In 1998, Jerry Frank Townsend, who has the mental capacity of an 8-year-old, was released from prison after serving 22 years when DNA testing proved he did not commit six murders and one rape.

And in 2000, a DNA test exonerated Frank Lee Smith, who had been sentenced to death for raping and killing an 8-year-old girl. However, he had already died of cancer in 1999 after serving 14 years on death row.

In fact, there have been many men throughout the country cleared of heinous crimes after DNA testing exonerated them, including the man who served 25 years in prison as Miami’s Bird Road Rapist.


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