By Holly Crocco
Gasps could be heard in the courtroom Feb. 27 as the jury foreman announced a “not guilty” verdict in the retrial of Andrew Krivak of Carmel, who was accused of raping and murdering a Patterson youth more than 25 years ago.
It took the jury less than one day to reach its verdict.
“It’s about time,” said Krivak, now 45, outside the Putnam County Courthouse in Carmel after the trial. “I appreciate the jury seeing the truth, and coming back with a ‘not guilty’ verdict. It’s been far too long. It should have ended in 2016 when Anthony (DiPippo) was exonerated but the farse continued… At some point you have to have faith in the people to see things the way they are, and that’s what happened. I put my faith in the jury that we picked.”
District Attorney Robert Tendy, who prosecuted the case himself, was clearly disappointed leaving the courthouse. “The jury has spoken,” he said. “We have to respect their decision. That’s our system.”
When asked if he still believed Krivak is guilty, he answered without hesitation: “Yes, I do.”
Krivak was convicted alongside Anthony DiPippo in 1997 of the rape and murder of Josette Wright, a 12-year-old Carmel middle-schooler whose remains were discovered by a hunter in a wooded area off a dirt road in Patterson in 1995, a year after she went missing.
The two men were accused of raping and strangling the victim in a van that belonged to Krivak’s father, then dumping her body.
In May 2020, Westchester County Judge David Zuckerman vacated Krivak’s conviction and ordered a new trial after hearing evidence about statements that an inmate in a Connecticut state prison allegedly made about Wright in prison. He took his first steps as a free man outside the Putnam County Correctional Facility in November 2020, and has been on house arrest ever since.
The Putnam County District Attorney’s Office appealed Zuckerman’s decision to grant Krivak a new trial, but that appeal was denied. The D.A.’s Office then ordered a new trial.
The conviction for Krivak’s “co-defendant,” DiPippo, was overturned because his trial lawyer never disclosed that he had previously represented Howard Gombert, a convicted serial rapist who is currently serving a 30-year sentence in a Connecticut state prison and who allegedly confessed to Wright’s murder to another prisoner.
DiPippo went back to trial and was again found guilty, but the court did not allow him to present evidence of Gombert’s guilt so that conviction was reversed by the New York Court of Appeals. DiPippo went back to trial a third time and was acquitted.
He went on to file a federal civil rights lawsuit against Putnam County and won more than $12 million in a settlement that cost the county $200,000 in insurance deductibles. Tendy condemned lawmakers for approving the settlement, saying his civil rights were never violated.
DiPippo and Krivak were tried separately because Krivak signed a confession, which DiPippo did not. However, the defense maintained that the confession was coerced.