Monday, May 13, 2019

  

Rape, murder conviction tossed, Krivak to get new trial

CARMEL – One of the major stories of 2016 evolved around the acquittal of twice convicted murderer Anthony DiPippo who had spent more than two decades in a maximum security penitentiary for the brutal rape and murder of a 12-year-old Carmel girl.

His co-defendant in the case, Andrew Krivak, who remains behind bars at the maximum security Wende Correctional Facility outside Buffalo serving a sentence of 25 years to life, will now have his day in court as well later this year after Westchester Supreme Court Justice David Zuckerman officiating in Putnam County Court Thursday afternoon since Putnam’s judges recused themselves, threw out Krivak’s 1997conviction for raping and murdering Josette Wright.

In January, the Appellate Division of State Supreme Court ruled that the convicted murderer was entitled to a hearing in order to decide whether the former Patterson resident was entitled to a new trial.

Acting Putnam Court Judge Victor Alfieri, who has since retired, denied Krivak’s request in 2016 without a hearing to vacate the judgment rendered on June 11, 1997 by former Putnam County Judge William Braatz after a jury found Krivak guilty of murder and rape in the death of  the Carmel Middle School seventh grader.

In 1995, one year after the child’s family reported her missing, Josette’s skeletal remains were discovered by a hunter along Fields Lane at the Southeast-Patterson border.

Krivak and his co-defendant Anthony DiPippo were arrested in 1996 in connection with the girl’s death.

According to court documents, while in custody, Krivak confessed to law enforcement officials that he and DiPippo raped and murdered Wright. Krivak contended his confession was false because it was coerced by sheriff’s investigators.

Both men were tried separately and both were convicted after jury trials.

The Appellate Division vacated DiPippo’s judgment of conviction and ordered a new trial on grounds that he was denied the “effective assistance of trial counsel because his trial attorney had operated under a conflict of interest.”

The Court of Appeals then reversed DiPippo’s judgment of conviction and ordered a new trial since the court ruled that DiPippo should have “been permitted to present to the jury evidence of third-party culpability.”

The jury acquitted DiPippo of the crimes.

Judge Zuckerman ordered a new trial for Krivak after hearing the same testimony that a Connecticut sex offender, Howard Gombert, already in prison, had made statements to a fellow inmate implicating himself in the crime.

DiPippo, Krivak and members of Krivak’s family were in the court room when the judge rendered his decision as was Susan Wright, Josette’s mother.

Putnam County District Attorney Robert Tendy was disappointed by the judge’s decision. “We thought it was very clear that the defense did not come close to meeting their statutory evidentiary burden in order to prevail for a new trial. However, we have every intention of appealing this decision and regardless of the outcome of the appeal we have every intention of moving forward to trial. We would not take this position if we did not believe the evidence will prove the defendant committed this crime.”

However, defense counsel Adele Bernhard of New York City described the judge’s order for a new trial as a “victory. This is a step in the right direction.”

Judge Zuckerman scheduled the next hearing in the case for September 12. Bernhard was hopeful the case would be tried that week. “That depends on the district attorney’s decision to appeal the judge’s ruling but I truly feel that my client was wronged in this case and Mr. Krivac is 100 percent innocent. This is a real tragedy. The problem stemmed from the fact that members of the sheriff’s department were not properly trained, supervised and evaluated back then. Who knows how many other cases are now questionable because of those police officers?”

 

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