News 03.06.07

DNA Exoneration Cases in New York State

The 24 people in New York State who were wrongly convicted, and subsequently exonerated through DNA testing, served a combined total of 277 years in prison for crimes they did not commit. The following is a chronological listing of these cases, with brief information on each.

1991:

Charles Dabbs

, Westchester County; convicted of rape in 1984 and sentenced to 12.5-20 years; served 7 years.

1992:

Leonard Callace

, Suffolk County; convicted of sexual assault and related charges in 1987 and sentenced to 25-50 years; served 5.5 years.

1992:

Kerry Kotler

, Nassau County; convicted of rape and robbery in 1981 and sentenced to 25-50 years; served 10.5 years.

1995:

Terry Chalmers

, Westchester County; convicted of rape and related charges in 1987 and sentenced to 12-2 years; served 7.5 years.

1996:

Victor Ortiz

, Newburgh; convicted of rape in 1984 and sentenced to 25 years; served 11.5 years.

1999:

Habib Wahir Abdal

, Buffalo; convicted of rape in 1983 and sentenced to 20 years to life; served 16 years.

2000:

James O’Donnell

, Staten Island; convicted of attempted sodomy and assault in 1998 and sentenced to 3.5-7 years; served 2 years.

2002:

Hector Gonzales

, New York City; convicted of murder in 1995 and sentenced to 15 years to life; served 5.5 years.

2002:

Antron McCray

, New York City; convicted of rape and assault in 1989 and sentenced to 5-10 years; served 6 years.

2002:

Kevin Richardson

, New York City; convicted of attempted murder, rape and robbery in 1989 and sentenced to 5-10 years; served 5.5 years.

2002:

Yusef Salaam

, New York City; convicted of rape and assault in 1989 and sentenced to 5-10 years; served 5.5 years.

2002:

Raymond Santana

, New York City; convicted of rape and assault in 1989 and sentenced to 5-10 years; served 5 years.

2002:

Korey Wise

, New York City; convicted of assault, sexual abuse and riot in 1989 and sentenced to 5-15 years; served 11.5 years.

2003:

Michael Mercer

, New York City; convicted of rape and robbery in 1992 and sentenced to 20.5-41 years; served 10.5 years.

2005:

Dennis Halstead

, Nassau County; convicted of rape and murder in 1986 and sentenced to 33 years to life; served 16 years.

2005:

John Kogut

, Nassau County; convicted of rape and murder in 1986 and sentenced to 31.5 years to life; served 17 years.

2005:

John Restivo

, Nassau County; convicted of rape and murder in 1986 and sentenced to 33 years to life; served 17 years.

2006:

Jeffrey Deskovic

, Westchester County; convicted of rape and murder in 1991 and sentenced to 15 years to life; served 15.5 years.

2006:

Scott Fappiano

, Brooklyn; convicted of rape and burglary in 1985 and sentenced to 25-50 years; served 21 years.

2006:

Alan Newton

, Bronx; convicted of rape, robbery and assault in 1985 and sentenced to 13-40 years; served 21 years.

2006:

Douglas Warney

, Rochester; convicted of murder in 1997 and sentenced to 25 years to life; served 9 years.

2007:

Roy Brown

, Cayuga County; convicted of murder in 1992 and sentenced to 25 years to life; served 15 years.

2007:

Anthony Capozzi

, Buffalo; convicted of two rapes in 1997 and sentenced to 11-35 years; served 20 years.

2009:

Steven Barnes

, Utica; convicted of murder and rape in 1989 and sentenced to 25 years to life; served 18.5 years.


Facts on DNA Exonerations in New York State:

Facts on DNA Exonerations in New York State

• 24 of the nation’s more than 200 DNA exonerations (over 10%) have been in New York State.

• The first DNA exoneration in New York was in 1991. There have been seven DNA exonerations in the state since 2006.

• The 24 DNA exonerations in New York have been from across the state – including Buffalo, Rochester, Cayuga County, Long Island, Westchester County and New York City.

• In 10 of New York’s 24 DNA exoneration cases, the actual perpetrator was later identified.

• Before they were exonerated, these 24 individuals served an average of 11 years in prison for crimes they did not commit.

• These 24 New Yorkers served a combined total of 260 years in prison.

• In 14 of the 24 New York cases, eyewitness misidentification was a contributing factor in the wrongful conviction.

• New York is not among the states that have implemented procedures that are proven to make eyewitness identification more accurate. (New Jersey has implemented such reforms statewide.)

• In 10 of the 24 New York DNA exoneration cases, a false confession was obtained by law enforcement.

• Law enforcement agencies in three of New York State’s 62 counties electronically record custodial interrogations (a reform that has been shown to reduce false confessions).

• The Innocence Project recently conducted a preliminary analysis of its closed cases and found that while nationally 32% of cases were closed because evidence was lost or destroyed (and thus could not be subjected to DNA testing in order to prove guilt or innocence), in New York City 50% of cases were closed for this reason.

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  1. james e smith says:

    I was falsely accused of a sex crime in watertown, ny. I was accused by a woman who was mentally ill. She put a young girl up to saying I held her down and touched her breasts, really? to make a long story short I was told by the judge and my lawyer that I had no choice but to plea to first degree sexual abuse.Because I could not afford a trial. months later the girl came forward and told the judge she wouldn’t know me if she fell over me. the judge refused to drop the charges. this all happened in 1995, I now live in north Carolina and must register as a sex offender. This has ruined my life, I cant even get a good job because of it.

  2. ADRIA LAMBRIGHT says:

    Hello, My name is Adria Lambright and my family and I are all too familiar with innocent people being locked up. I have a brother that is presently incarcerated for a murder he did not commit when he was 16.

Thanks for your comment

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