Esdras Cardona's Testimony About the Rape at the Everglades Club

cardona mug shot.jpg
Photo courtesy of the Florida Department of Corrections
Cardona is now serving a 20-year sentence in state prison.
 
After reading New Times' cover story about a rape at Palm Beach's most exclusive country club, you may still have questions about this strange criminal case. It's a complicated one, involving two employees who lived and worked at the Everglades Club -- a white cook named Melissa and her alleged attacker, a Guatemalan dishwasher, Esdras Cardona.

Cardona was convicted of sexual battery and is now serving a 20-year sentence in a state prison. But he has always maintained his innocence and is now awaiting further DNA testing that his lawyers hope will exonerate him. Right now, the only DNA evidence linking him to the crime is a toothbrush found in Melissa's room after the attack, which contained DNA that exactly matched Cardona's. Melissa also swiftly picked him from a photo lineup and found a T-shirt on her bed that was the same style as one found in Cardona's room.

At his criminal trial, Cardona gave confusing and sometimes conflicting testimony about how well he knew Melissa and where he was at the time the crime occurred. To read more about his whereabouts, the toothbrush, and the scratches police found on his neck after the crime, check out a transcript of his testimony.

And to learn more about how Melissa is doing now, three years after the attack, read an excerpt from a recent court deposition given by her boyfriend, Ryan Jones.

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