By Francisco Alvarado
Florida Center for Investigative Reporting
An Indiana man, whose 2011 murder conviction was overturned last year by the Florida Supreme Court, is suing the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, three agency employees and a Sumter County assistant state attorney for violating his civil rights.
In a lawsuit filed on June 15 in Tampa federal court, Carl Dausch Jr. alleges FDLE forensic technician Robyn Ragsdale falsified DNA swab reports to pin the 1987 murder of Adrian Mobley on him. He also accuses her supervisors Curt Schuerman and Melissa Suddeth of signing off on the alleged false reports and assistant prosecutor Peter Magrino of relying on tainted evidence to convict him.
Dausch, who is currently serving 60 years in an Indiana state prison for a 1990 rape conviction, is seeking $2.8 million in damages. He served five-and-half years in the state correctional facility in Raiford, FL, while he appealed his death sentence. While at Raiford, Dausch ruptured his left bicep and shoulder and tore his right shoulder, his lawsuit alleges.
Dausch claims in the lawsuit that he also suffered severe injuries while he was being held in an overcrowded cell block at the Sumter County Detention Center during his trial. He alleges a group of inmates attacked him, cracking his skull, rupturing his right eardrum and stabbing him in the right eye with a pencil.
On July 3, 2014, the state supreme court vacated his death sentence and his murder conviction.
Twenty seven years earlier, Mobley’s body was found hogtied along a Sumter County road. The 27-year-old victim was beaten to death. His car and his wallet were subsequently found in Nashville, Tennessee, and the Florida-Georgia state line, respectively.
His death remained a cold case until 2002. That’s when FDLE received a grant to analyze DNA from unsolved cases. According to Ragsdale’s report and testimony, DNA found on a cigarette butt in Mobley’s car and semen swabbed from the victim at the time of the murder matched Dausch’s. His fingerprints were also found on Mobley’s car and on a cigarette lighter wrapper found inside.
However, the state court sided with Dausch’s claim that the DNA found on the victim statistically could have come from 1 in 29 white men – a much higher percentage than in other cases, according to an Associated Press report.
The high court ruled that the evidence against Dausch wasn’t strong enough to convict him of murder.
The Florida Center for Investigative Reporting left messages for Magrino and an FDLE spokesman seeking comment. This post will be updated if they respond.
UPDATE: An FDLE spokesman and Magrino declined to comment because they had not seen Dausch’s lawsuit.