Saturday, May 11, 2019

Andrew Krivak: New York: False Confession Case: Major (welcome) Development: Conviction thrown out: New trial ordered: (Very helpful background from the Deskovic Foundation. HL)


ESSENTIAL 'MUST READ'  BACKGROUND TO THIS SIGNIFICANT DEVELOPMENT: Thanks to the Deskovic Foundation.  From the Foundation Website: "The Jeffrey Deskovic Foundation for Justice is a non-profit organization that fights against wrongful convictions in the United States. The Foundation has three missions: to advocate against wrongful convictions, free actually innocent wrongfully imprisoned prisoners on a pro bono basis, and reintegrate exonerees back into society. The Jeffrey Deskovic Foundation for Justice was started by Jeffrey Deskovic, an exoneree who starting at the age of 17, spent 16 years in prison for a rape and murder that he did not commit. In 2006, he was proven innocent by DNA testing, which not only exonerated him, but also identified the actual perpetrator."

This post was published  by the Deskovic Foundation on December 21, 2016 at the link below:  "In 1997, Andrew Krivak and his co-defendant Anthony DiPippo were convicted of the rape and murder of a 12-year old girl, who disappeared from her home in Carmel, NY on October 4, 1994. No physical evidence connected Krivak or DiPippo to the victim or the crime scene. The key witness against Krivak and DiPippo was a 17 year old girl, Denise Rose, recently arrested for reckless driving and DUI, who had previously dated DiPippo. Initially, she denied knowning anything about the crime, but over three weeks of questioning by Putnam County Sheriff's Department detectives, she came to claim to have witnessed the crime, and that it had been committed by both Krivak and DiPippo. The department then spent two months trying to pressure friends and acquaintances to of Krivak and DiPippo to corroborate Rose’s claims without success. On July 1, 1996, nearly two years after the murder, detectives interviewed Krivak, then 18 years old, and after seven hours of interrogation, extracted a false confession from Krivak that closely matched Roses's claims. One of the team participating in the interrogation was Daniel Stephens, a polygraph operator who had previously used a fake polygraphy examination to extract a false murder confession from the 16 year old Jeffrey Deskovic. Thirteen years later, DNA evidence proved Deskovic was actually innocent of the crime to which he falsely confessed, he was fully exonerated, and a federal jury found that Stephens had conspired to deprive him of his civil rights and to fabricate evidence. The interrogators witheld a critical fact. Investigators from the Carmel Police Department had identified another man, Howard Gombert, as the likely perpetrator of the crime, and suspected him in the murder of a second young girl that disappeared around the same time.  Krivak was tried seperately from DiPippo, convicted, and sentenced to 25 years to life on June 11, 1997. DiPippo was tried immediately afterwards, convicted, and sentenced to 25 years to life on July 11, 1997. On appeal, Krivak’s conviction was affirmed, but DiPippo’s conviction was reversed, due to a conflict of interest – the same attorney that represented DiPippo at his trial had also represented Howard Gombert, the man suspected of the murder by the Carmel police. DiPippo was then tried again and convicted. His second conviction was also reversed, this time because evidence had been kept from the jury that Gombert, now serving a prison sentence Connecticut for abusing a 9 year old girl, had also confessed to the murder of the girl DiPippo and Krivak were accused of murdering. On October 11, 2016, after a third trial, DiPippo was finally acquitted of all charges. Krivak remains imprisoned to this date, for the crime that he and DiPippo allegedly committed together. The same evidence that exonerated DiPippo, as well as new DNA evidence that found no trace of Krivak or DiPippo’s DNA at the crime scene should exonerate Krivak, but we still wait for justice to be done.


STORY: Andrew Krivak conviction thrown out in the rape and murder of 12-year-old Josette Wright," by reporter Jonathan Bandler, published by the Rockland/Westchester Journal News (USA Today Network) on May 9, 2019.

GIST: "A judge Thursday threw out the 1997 conviction of Andrew Krivak in the rape and murder of 12-year-old Josette Wright, one of Putnam County’s most notorious crimes. Judge David Zuckerman ordered a new trial for Krivak after hearing testimony that a Connecticut sex offender, Howard Gombert, had made jailhouse statements in 2011 implicating himself in the crime. The judge ruled there was a reasonable probability that Krivak would have had a more favorable verdict in the trial if the jury had known about Gombert. Krivak’s lawyer, Adele Bernhard, asked for bail to be set, but Zuckerman denied the request and returned Krivak to prison to await trial. Wright disappeared in early October 1994 and her remains were discovered 13 months later in woods off Fields Lane in Patterson. Krivak and his friend Anthony DiPippo were convicted at separate trials in 1997, largely on the testimony of DiPippo’s ex-girlfriend who claimed she was with them and Wright in Krivak’s van and witnessed the two rape the girl before taking her lifeless body into the woods. DiPippo had that conviction and another one overturned before he was acquitted at a third trial in 2016, largely on the basis of the same evidence Zuckerman relied on today. That was the testimony of Joseph Santoro, who claimed Gombert told him in 2011 that he’d never be charged in the case because “two suckers” were serving time for the killing. Krivak had not been back in Putnam since he got the maximum sentence, 25 years to life. He had never gotten a second trial in large part because he implicated himself in a statement he contends was a false confession coerced by sheriff’s investigators. Susan Wright, Josette’s mother, stormed out of the courtroom once it was clear Zuckerman was going to overturn the conviction. Krivak, supporters relieved at decision:  Following the ruling, Krivak, 41, hugged his lawyer and smiled broadly at his supporters in the gallery, including his father and DiPippo. “Justice took a giant step forward,” Andrew Krivak Sr. said outside the Putnam County Courthouse. “We’ve waited a long time, kept pursuing and pursuing and never giving up on it.” Assistant District Attorney Larry Glasser argued the defense needed more than just Santoro's testimony. He said the prosecution would review its options including whether to appeal Zuckerman's ruling. "We respect the judge's decision but we're disappointed," Glasser said. "We are confident (Krivak) is guilty of this crime." The evidence was the same DiPippo relied upon to get new trials and finally win acquittal in 2016 after nearly 20 years in prison. An appellate court in January reversed the latest denial of Krivak's bid for a new trial, ruling that the judge should have granted him a hearing to better understand whether the new evidence might have been enough to sway the jury. Jailhouse conversation leads to confession: Santoro was at McDougal State Prison in Connecticut on April 12, 2011, when he overheard Gombert in the showers telling another inmate that people were trying to pin a Putnam County murder on him. Santoro had spent most of his life in Carmel and was curious so he struck up a conversation with Gombert. He said Gombert mentioned Josette’s name and told him “‘They already got two other suckers for it so they’re not going to get me,’” Santoro testified. He detailed how Gombert called Josette a “slut” and that she flirted with him. When she asked if she could babysit for his girlfriend’s daughter, Gombert told her no because his girlfriend wouldn't like that. He said he later got her into his car under the pretense of saying she could babysit, and had sex with her, though she had to be persuaded. He also told Santoro that he had been questioned about the disappearance of another girl and even tested a necklace he had to see if matched the missing girl. Santoro knew that was probably Robin Murphy, who disappeared in Carmel in 1995 - between the time Wright was killed and her body discovered - and has never been found. He testified that Gombert told him ‘You can’t convict someone without a body.’ He acknowledged that Gombert  never specifically said that he had killed Wright or that DiPippo and Krivak had not. But he insisted that Gombert had implied as much. Back in his cell, Santoro decided to write down what Gombert had told him. “This man was basically telling me he killed someone that two other men were in prison for,” he testified. “It was probably the most surprising thing I ever heard.”  Santoro comes forward amid questions: He kept the notes with his legal papers but didn’t share them with anyone. Later that year, when Santoro was being transferred to New York state prison he was held for two days at the Putnam County jail. It happened to be when DiPippo, who he said he had never met, also was there during his second trial. When Santoro heard DiPippo’s name called over the loudspeaker he approached him, told him he had something he’d probably be interested in and handed him the notes. He insisted to Glasser that he hadn’t heard already that DiPippo was blaming the Wright killing on Gombert. “It’s quite a coincidence,” the prosecutor said. “Yeah it is,” Santoro said. “Actually amazing.” Santoro acknowledged a lengthy criminal history and that he hated law enforcement, particularly prosecutors with the Putnam County District Attorney’s Office. Glasser played a clip of an interview Santoro had with a defense investigator in 2015, before his trial testimony, in which he said that nothing would change what he’d say because if he had the opportunity to “stick it to” the DA’s office, he was going to. Bernhard had earlier asked him if he came forward with Gombert’s account to get back at the authorities in Putnam. He said that wasn’t it. She asked him why, then. In the front row of the gallery, Susan Wright rubbed her fingers together, quietly suggesting it had to be about money.  “Honestly, if I was in (DiPippo and Krivak’s) position, I would hope they would do it for me,” Santoro said. DiPippo, who has a wrongful conviction lawsuit against Putnam County pending in federal court, said he was "thrilled" by the ruling. "Finally we're on the road to justice for Andy after 23 years," he said. "We look forward to his day in court and him being vindicated like I was." Zuckerman is a Westchester County judge assigned to the case because Putnam County judges have recused themselves. He ordered Krivak back to court on Sept. 12.

The entire story can be read at: