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DNA testing no factor in murder case

DNA tests on evidence in a rape-murder case came back inconclusive for a Miramar man who has spent 18 years in prison for a crime he says he didn't commit.

Tests on the victim's rape kit and fingernail clippings yielded no useful evidence to exonerate or implicate Anthony Caravella, prosecutors and defense attorneys said Friday.

Caravella, now 33, was convicted of felony murder and sentenced to life with a chance of parole after 25 years. At the time of the investigation, the mildly retarded Caravella confessed, giving police four versions of the rape and murder of Ada Cox Jankowski, 58, at Miramar Elementary School.

Earlier this year, Caravella's brother, Larry Dunlap, persuaded the Broward Public Defender's Office to request DNA testing.

Caravella's attorney said the test results were disappointing, but they would continue to try to exonerate him.

Prosecutor Carolyn McCann said the test results bolster their case against Caravella. But Broward prosecutors said they agreed to the testing in part because of the recent exonerations of two other men, Frank Lee Smith and Jerry Frank Townsend, who were convicted of murders in Broward County.

Caravella will remain in prison while prosecutors do more DNA tests.

Evidence from the murder scene also will be compared with blood specimens from another suspect, Cyril "Chip" Cozier, who was cleared in 1983. Cozier died in 1998, but the specimens were retained from his autopsy.

In a prison interview with the South Florida Sun-Sentinel in Fort Lauderdale last month, Caravella said he was not guilty.

"I know that by confessing to this crime, I brought a lot of this on myself," Caravella said. "But at 15, and not knowing that physical evidence wasn't necessary for a conviction, I acted stupidly."