The 1983 murder of a Broward County woman was so vicious -- she was raped, stabbed maybe 40 times, hit over the head with a chair and strangled with wire -- that Miramar police said the killer had to have been "mentally unstable."
Within hours of the murder of 58-year-old Ada Cox Jankowski, detectives had a prime suspect -- 17-year-old Anthony Martinez -- but they abruptly dropped him when his family intervened to protect him, according to testimony this week in federal court in Fort Lauderale.
The nearly 30-year-old murder is being scrutinized anew by a jury because of a civil lawsuit filed on behalf of a different Anthony from Miramar -- Anthony Caravella -- who detectives turned their attention to after the investigation of Martinez was blocked.
Within weeks, Caravella, who was 15 and had an IQ of 67, confessed and was charged with the brutal murder. He served nearly 26 years in prison before DNA testing set him free in 2009.
The DNA evidence led investigators to name Martinez as the likely killer in September 2010 but he died, of natural causes, two months later.
Caravella's lawyer, Barbara Heyer, is seeking damages and compensation for him from the city of Miramar, the Broward Sheriff's Office, three former city detectives and a former deputy who played key roles in the investigation and Caravella's conviction.
Heyer spent the first few days of trial questioning former detectives Bill Guess and George Pierson about what she alleges was a defective investigation fatally marred by misconduct by them, their colleague William Mantesta and former sheriff's major Tony Fantigrassi.
The officers say they did nothing wrong and blame Caravella for confessing. They suggested in court that they are the victims of Monday morning quarterbacking -- with their accusers using modern forensic science to undermine the conclusions they reached before DNA testing was available.
Police reports show Martinez immediately emerged as a suspect in Jankowski's murder because witnesses saw them dancing, flirting and planning a sexual tryst as they left the Miramar Lounge around 3 a.m.
When detectives questioned Martinez, he said everyone in the bar was mistaken, he and Jankowski had spoken only briefly, left around the same time but not together, and there had been no sexual contact.
Before long, Isabel Martinez grew leery of the officers' escalating questions about her son's possible involvement in the murder of Jankowski, a neighbor who had lived just a few doors down the street.
Witnesses at the bar said Anthony Martinez wore jeans and a light blue shirt when he left with Jankowski, but officers asked no questions when his mother gave them brown pants and a navy blue shirt after they asked her for the clothes her son wore that night. Testing found no blood or evidence on the clothing.
Isabel Martinez soon told officers she "didn't like" polygraphs and wouldn't let the juvenile suspect take one, police reports show. She also wouldn't let Anthony Martinez provide a hair sample and, by Nov. 15, said she'd consult a lawyer before deciding if officers could talk to him again.
The strategy proved effective -- officers started looking for a new suspect, records show.
The officers switched their focus to Caravella, who they said they called on for help partly because he spent a lot of time walking the streets and sometimes gave them information.
By late December, Caravella gave the first of several audio-taped statements and eventually confessed.
Heyer said the officers spent untold hours in unrecorded conversations with Caravella over several days, feeding him details of the crime, asking leading questions and coercing the mentally challenged teen into a false confession. Heyer began questioning officers Tuesday about the many details Caravella got wrong in his statements.
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