Anthony Caravella was released from custody in Floriday Thursday after spending 26 years in prison for a rape and murder his lawyer says he didn’t commit. A private laboratory test revealed someone else’s DNA at the crime scene. The Christian Science Monitor says it is another example of the growing number of defendants being ordered freed from prison as DNA tests continue to uncover evidence of false confessions, shoddy police work, and questionable prosecution tactics.
If his conditional release becomes permanent, he will be the 243rd person freed by DNA evidence nationwide, the 11th in Florida, and the fourth in Broward County. Seth Miller, executive director of the Innocence Project of Florida, says despite the proven success of such efforts it is becoming increasingly difficult for defense lawyers to pursue DNA testing. “Nobody likes to admit they are wrong,” he says. Caravella was 15 years old in 1983 when detectives questioned him in connection with the murder of Ada Jankowski in nearby Miramar, Fla. Caravella has an IQ of 67 and is considered mentally retarded. His lawyer, Chief Assistant Public Defender Diane Cuddihy, said in a court motion that Caravella was threatened, beaten, pushed, and slapped by police.