Anthony DiPippo and Andrew Krivak were arrested in July 1996 after DiPippo’s ex-girlfriend, Denise Rose, claimed she had been with them in a van and saw them rape and kill Josette Wright. She told police the men gagged Wright with her underwear and dropped her body off in the woods in Fields Lane in Patterson, which was where police had found her remains. DiPippo and Krivak were both found guilty of second-degree murder and first-degree rape in 1997. Krivak is serving a 25-to-life sentence in state prison and isn’t eligible for parole until 2021. DiPippo was acquitted by a jury after three trials in October 2016.
Krivak signed a lengthy statement in which he admitted raping Josette but not killing her and implicating DiPippo in the murder. Krivak did not testify at his own trial but has always insisted he fabricated the confession under pressure from the investigators.
In September 2016, Krivak filed to introduce the new evidence that led to DiPippo’s acquittal. “New evidence shows that Krivak is likely innocent of the crimes, that false evidence was used at his trial and that he deserves a new trial,” one of his lawyers, Adele Bernhard, wrote in court papers. Bernhard, a former Pace Law School professor, teaches at New York Law School, where she supervises the Post-Conviction Innocence Clinic.
Krivak’s filing relied on several of the details that got DiPippo his new trial — particularly that Putnam sheriff investigators coerced witnesses and that a Connecticut sex offender, Howard Gombert, is Josette’s killer and implicated himself in statements made to a fellow inmate in 2011. At DiPippo’s trial on in September 2016, Joseph Santoro testified as a defense witness how Gombert claimed to have sex with Josette at the time she disappeared and that he suggested he had gotten away with murder because two “suckers” were convicted.
On Tuesday December 20, 2016 Krivak’s motion was denied by State Supreme Court Justice Victor Alfieri, who said Krivak and DiPippo’s cases are different, and the new evidence isn’t likely to change the verdict because of Krivak’s “detailed, voluntary confession” to the police after his arrest in 1996.
Krivak’s attorney, Adele Bernhard, called the judge’s ruling “surprising” and “disappointing.”, and said that Krivak’s confession has “the hallmarks of a false confession.” The new evidence, his lawyers say, points to Howard Gombert, who is serving time in Connecticut for sexual assault, as the girl’s likely killer, not Krivak and DiPippo, who were convicted of the crime in separate trials in 1997.
“One of the things the police are supposed to do in trying to get them to confess is to get them to talk about evidence that isn’t already known,” Bernhard said. “So for example, if they can get the suspect to say the victim was wearing purple underwear and no one knows that except police. But everything in the alleged confession was already known from the crime scene.”
Bernhard said the defense team will file an appeal of the judge’s decision early in 2017.
“We’re going to ask the appellate division to review the judge’s decision, and I’m sure that they will,” she said. “We just want to give the jury an opportunity to consider all the evidence. The jury didn’t get to do that.”
The Putnam Sheriff’s Investigator, Daniel Stevens, that helped secure Krivak’s disputed confession through the use of a lie detector was the same detective that gave Jeffrey Deskovic the lie detector test that preceded his false coerced confession. Deskovic was exonerated by DNA evidence and the taped confession of the actual perpetrator.