In his quest for freedom, Carmel native Andrew Krivak passed through a major hurdle on July 3 when a New York State Appellate Division Court announced it would hear his appeal for a new trial in the rape and murder of Josette Wright.
The ruling means the appellate division will hear arguments about whether new evidence in the case warrants a new trial to determine Krivak’s guilt. His co-defendant, Anthony DiPippo, was acquitted of the 1994 slaying last October during his third trial. DiPippo and Krivak were arrested and found guilty in 1997 for the rape and murder of Wright, who was 12-years-old at the time and lived in Carmel.
Adele Bernhard, one of the two attorneys representing Krivak, said her client received the outcome she was hoping for. She noted the appellate division agreed there is new evidence — a registered sex offender, Howard Gombert, committed the crime instead — that could result in a different outcome.
Bernhard said if DiPippo was allowed to present an alternative suspect, she believes Krivak should also have the opportunity to present that to a new jury.
Krivak’s defense team originally argued to Putnam County Judge Victor Alfieri that Krivak should have a new trial in the aftermath of the DiPippo not-guilty verdict, but Alfieri denied that request. He wrote Krivak gave a voluntary confession in 1996 and a new suspect would not change the outcome of a guilty verdict.
Going forward, both the prosecution and defense will submit legal briefs to the appellate division concerning whether Krivak, 39, should be granted a new trial. It’ll likely take months before a decision is reached, Bernhard said.
In an interview, DiPippo said his and Krivak’s families were ecstatic when they found out the appellate court decided to hear the case. A post on Facebook by DiPippo announcing the news has elicited a strong amount of support.
“He’s innocent, we stand behind him,” he said. “And we’re going to go full speed ahead, whatever it’s going to take to bring him home.”
DiPippo added he and Krivak’s team continues to extend an “olive branch” to the district attorney’s office, arguing, “it’s never too late to correct an injustice.”
“This has gone on far enough,” DiPippo said, claiming sex offender Howard Gombert is the actual perpetrator of the horrific crime.
But District Attorney Bob Tendy said there is no reason to believe Krivak was wrongly convicted and will continue to fight to keep him in jail. In an email, Tendy said he personally and thoroughly reviewed DiPippo’s case before the third trial got underway and determined DiPippo committed the crime, even if the third jury disagreed.
He said a conviction integrity review has not looked over Krivak’s case and his office will proceed accordingly.
“The case against Mr. Krivak is arguably much stronger, which is why the lower court judge–the same judge who presided over DiPippo’s third trial– denied his request for a new trial,” Tendy said in an email.
Bernhard said the evidence against Krivak is exactly the same that was presented against DiPippo, but for the exception Krivak confessed he committed the crime to the sheriff ’s office more than 20 years ago.
But Bernhard contended Krivak’s admission is a false confession, a concept that jurors are more prone to consider presently than decades ago.
“It happens in exactly these kinds of circumstances,” Bernhard said. “Young boys who are interrogated by very senior, experienced forceful homicide detectives. That’s the scenario where you end up with a false confession, that’s what happened here.”
Tendy hasn’t shied away from helping free convicted individuals his office believed were innocent. One of Tendy’s first acts as district attorney was helping exonerate William Haughey, who was convicted of arson several years ago. With Tendy’s assistance, Haughey was released from prison and his conviction was tossed.
Josette Wright’s mother, Susan, who attended DiPippo’s third trial, has maintained her belief that DiPippo and Krivak brutally killed her daughter. After a jury found DiPippo not guilty, Susan Wright referred to DiPippo and Krivak as “barbarians,” according to The Journal News.