Two former officers liable for $7 million in Caravella case, jury decides
The jury in the Anthony Caravella civil lawsuit decided two of the four officers are liable for framing the 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.
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.
Both men acted with malice or reckless indifference to Caravella, violated his constitutional right against malicious prosecution and coerced him into confessing, the jurors decided.
Former Miramar officer Bill Guess and retired Broward Sheriff's deputy Tony Fantigrassi were found not liable.
"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."
His lawyer in the federal civil rights lawsuit, Barbara Heyer said: "The system really does work. Truth actually does prevail."