FORT LAUDERDALE, FLA. (WSVN) - A South Florida man arrested for a sexual assault has finally been freed after DNA evidence helped his case.
Twenty-five-year-old Anthony Quintal said he was innocent of a crime that could have sent him to jail for decades. He walked out of the Broward County jail Friday afternoon after spending seven days behind bars. He was facing sexual assault and attempted murder charges.
On Thursday night, he learned that DNA evidence did not link him to the crime. “I’m just happy that the truth came out,” he told 7News. “For all of this to come down on my family, it’s been hell.”
Sunrise Police had charged Quintal with sexual assault and with beating a 60-year-old woman on Northwest 90th Terrace, earlier in September.
Quintal’s attorney, Gordon Weekes, said the arresting officers coerced a confession. “This is a classic, textbook example of officers that are using their investigating techniques, their statement techniques in order to get folks to say things that are in fact not true,” Weekes said.
Several days after the attack, investigators handed our flyers with a sketch of the suspect they were looking for. When comparing the sketch to Quintal’s mugshot, the resemblance is hard to tell.
“When you compare that sketch to Anthony, there’s no resemblance whatsoever,” said defense attorney Caroline McCrae. “What the police were initially looking for was a man in his 30s to 40s, and Anthony is 25 years old. He does not fit that description.”
Quintal was still arrested, and from inside the jail, he said, he struggled emotionally, especially since he had just lost his sister, days earlier. “Just really relying on my faith and God to help get me through this tough time,” he said. “Like I said, dealing with the grief of my sister and my family losing her. It’s been really, really hard.”
The seriousness of the charges could have put Quintal behind bars for years, and he said it scared him. “I’ve seen videos on the internet of guys being released after 30 years, and it says they were released of a crime they didn’t do,” Quintal said. “I thought several times when I was incarcerated that that was gonna be me, 25, 30 years from now.”
Thanks to DNA, that wasn’t the case for the 25-year-old.
Sunrise Police released a statement that read in part: “This DNA evidence does not exonerate Mr. Quintal but does cause the need for further investigation. After conferring with the State Attorney’s Office, the decision to release Mr. Quintal was made.”
Quintal said the recent events will make him take life more seriously. “I’m gonna get my life together. I mean, it’s definitely a wake-up call,” he said. “None of us are perfect. None of us live perfect lives, but there’s a lot I can clean up in my life, and I can look at this time and say, ‘Wow, everything does happen for a reason.”‘
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