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Broward County

Anthony Caravella was released from jail on Thursday, Sept. 10.  Caravella served 26 years in prison for the 1983 rape and murder of Ada Cox Jankowski, a 58-year-old Miramar woman. Last week, DNA test results proved that Caravella never committed the crime.  His relatives say police beat a confession out of him that was used to convict him.  This is not the first time a person has been wrongly convicted in Broward County, or the first time in which DNA testing has later exonerated an innocent person.  In 1993, John Purvis, a mentally disabled man, was released from prison after serving nine years for the murder of a mother and her baby.  DNA tests cleared him, also.  In 1998, Jerry Frank Townsend, who was also mentally ill, was released from prison after serving 22 years.  DNA testing proved that Townsend was innocent of six murders and one rape. In 2000, DNA testing cleared Frank Lee Smith, who had been sentenced to death for raping and killing an 8-year-old girl. But Smith had already died of cancer in 1999, after serving 14 years on death row.

At the city of Deerfield Beach’s Fire Station number 75 on the beach, just 50 feet away from the ocean, dogs are allowed to lap out of the public drinking water fountain.  These are the allegations from residents and even some city employees.  I visited the station several times, and noticed video surveillance cameras installed there.  We are waiting to see exactly what they show.  One resident claims to have reported this disgusting and nasty practice to the city earlier this year, but has not yet received a response. I have contacted both City Manager Mike Mahaney and Fire Chief Anthony Stravino to see exactly what is happening here.  This fountain is less than three feet high (so children can reach it), and it has a knob that must be rotated to turn on the water.  While walking their pets, dog owners reportedly turn on the water so their mutts can drink out of this water fountain.

Miami-Dade County

Miami Mayor Manny Diaz released his proposed 2010 budget on Tuesday, Sept. 8, and it contains shocking job cuts to compensate for a $118 million revenue shortfall.   The plan calls for steep pay cuts in all sectors of the city’s 3,600-member workforce. It also calls for the elimination of 191 police officers, 305 general employees, five firefighters and 110 other jobs.

Amadeo Joseph Valls, 44, is being held on first-degree murder charges in the killing of John Henry Purvis, 50, on Monday, Sept. 7, police said. The alleged crime took place at a home where Purvis lived in the 6200 block of Southwest 79th Street in unincorporated Miami-Dade. Valls was once a tenant at that home, also.  In the wee hours of the morning, Purvis, who was armed, saw Valls outside, peering into cars with a flashlight, police said.   Purvis then went outside, and shots were fired, according to police. Purvis was killed.  Valls was also shot, and fled the scene, police said.  He was arrested at South Miami Hospital a short time later, according to police.

On Tuesday, Sept. 8, Acting U.S. Attorney Jeffrey H. Sloman unsealed the Aug. 25 indictments of three South Florida residents who were allegedly involved in a $10.6 million fraudulent land scheme.  Those indicted are Daniel Stephen, 42, of Miami Shores; Clotilde Jean, 43, of Miramar; and Patricia DePons, 53, also of Miami Shores, investigators say.  The three are charged with mail fraud and conspiracy to commit mail fraud for their participation in a scheme in which they fraudulently sold vacant land to more than 1,000 victims, investigators say. According to the indictment, First Loan Solution, a company owned by Stephen and Jean, targeted members of the Haitian community using radio and print ads to sell vacant lots in North Florida and Georgia.  The company never owned the lots.  The victims were issued fake warranties by Depons’ title company, investigators say.

Charlene Zatroch, 19, was shot in her left side by an unidentified assailant who argued with her over a space at a parking garage on Monday, Sept. 7.  The incident took place at a garage in the 1400 block of North Miami Ave., police said.  Zatroch’s car was blocked in by two men driving an SUV at 1 a.m.  The men got out of their vehicle with guns drawn, and pointed them inside the car, according to police.  Zatroch let the window up, catching the hand of one of the men, who then fired several shots through the glass, hitting her in the side, police said. The men fled.  They have not been caught. Zatroch suffered non-life threatening injuries.

Police have not released the causes of death of a family of three found inside their home in the 16200 block of Southwest 304th Terrace in Homestead on Monday, Sept. 7.  Jermaine Williams and Shanna Edwards, both 27, and their daughter Jenaya, a toddler whose age was not released, were all found dead from gunshot wounds.  Relatives say police told them they suspect the incident was a murder suicide, but no official information has been released. 

Palm Beach County

Deputy Marcel Dossantos, 39, of Boynton Beach, who patrols Delray Beach for the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office, was placed on paid administrative leave after his arrest on domestic battery and assault charges on Monday, Sept. 7, according to the sheriff’s office.  He is alleged to have bent his wife’s fingers back to take a cell phone from her when she was trying to dial 911.  The couple had been arguing after she changed the  TV channel from a program they were watching, according to investigators.

Anthony Berry, 53, of Delray Beach, was arrested and charged with attempted sexual assault on Monday, Sept. 7 by Boca Raton police.  Berry is accused of trying to rape a woman at Spanish River Park after begging her for $2.  Police said that after she gave him the money, he followed her to a wooded area and attacked her.  She fought back, and after escaping, she called police. Berry was found a short distance away, and was taken into custody, police said.

West Palm Beach police found two men, 27-year-old Shane Fleming and 22-year-old Cecil Brown, dead from gunshot wounds.  Police had responded to reports of shots being fired at the apartment the men shared on Sunday, Sept. 7.  The apartment is at the corner of 30th Court and Windsor Avenue. No suspects have been named. Anyone with information is asked to call Palm Beach County Crime Stoppers, anonymously, at 800-458-8477.