Published on March 23rd, 2013 | by Daniel Perlman0
Lawyer: Detectives should pay $21 million or more for putting wrong man in prison
Jurors began deliberating Thursday to decide if four former police officers framed the wrong man, a mentally challenged 15-year-old, for the 1983 rape and murder of a Miramar woman, condemning him to maximum security prisons for close to 26 years until DNA set him free in 2009.
In closing arguments, Anthony Caravella’s attorney blasted the retired detectives, three from Miramar and one from the Broward Sheriff’s Office, saying they set him up in 1983 and continued to try to blame the crimes on him – to this day – to defend themselves against allegations of misconduct.
“Think about what that does to this man,” Barbara Heyer told the jury, gesturing at Caravella. “He already spent over 25 years in prison and they’re not saying ‘We’re sorry, we made a mistake.’ They’re saying ‘We know you did it.'”
Heyer suggested the jurors try to compensate Caravella, now 44, by holding the officers accountable and ordering them to pay him about $21 million for past and future pain, mental anguish, loss of liberty and earnings. Heyer recommended the former officers – George Pierson, William Mantesta, Bill Guess and Tony Fantigrassi – also pay him punitive damages, but didn’t suggest an amount.
Heyer suggested a tab of $1,600 a day for past damages and $547 a day for the estimated rest of Caravella’s life.
The detectives’ attorneys argued they did nothing wrong and said Caravella was “still the most likely person” to have killed the 58-year-old victim, Ada Cox Jankowski.
They also blamed Caravella – who had an IQ of 67 – for confessing, and called a chemistry professor who claimed that the DNA tests, which set Caravella free in 2009 and linked another man to the crime in 2010, didn’t exonerate Caravella.
The civil lawsuit filed on Caravella’s behalf by a court-appointed legal guardian alleges the officers abused their power and coerced the mentally challenged 15-year-old into confessing by using mental or physical force. It also alleges the officers hid evidence that could have cleared him back in 1983 or 1984 and intentionally violated Caravella’s constitutional rights by causing him to be prosecuted for the murder.
The judge instructed the eight jurors – five women and three men – that they can consider Caravella’s age, intelligence level and emotional state when deciding whether his statements were voluntary.
Cole argued that Caravella got many of the details right when he confessed to the officers and his mother.
“He did [confess] and he had to pay the consequences for that,” Cole said.
Heyer called witnesses who said Caravella confessed because the officers told him he could get a 16-year-old female friend out of trouble if he helped them out. She said they fed him details of the crime before tape-recording four statements he gave over the course of a week. She also said they took him to the crime scene twice and fed him information for hours in meetings that were not taped.
Source: Sun Sentinel “Lawyer: Detectives should pay $21 million or more for putting wrong man in prison,” March 21, 2013.