Based on the files of the lawyers who freed them, Wrongful Conviction features interviews with men and women who have spent decades in prison for crimes they did not commit – some of them had even been sentenced to death. These are their stories.
In November 1995, a hunter found the remains of 12-year-old Josette Wright in a wooded area of Putnam County, New York. She was reported to have been hog-tied with her hands and feet tied together behind her back, and her underwear had been shoved down her throat. Her mother had reported her missing on October 4th, 1994, after she failed to return home the night before. Dominic Neglia, who was being investigated for drug charges, claimed that 18-year-old Anthony DiPippo and his friends were responsible for the rape and murder of Josette Wright. Three of the accused teenagers testified against Mr. DiPippo and Andrew Krivak, claiming that they were in Mr. DiPippo’s van when he and Krivak raped and strangled the victim. Mr. DiPippo denied his involvement with the crime, but in 1997 he was convicted and sentenced to 25 years to life in prison. In 2011, Mr. DiPippo was ordered a new trial after it was discovered that his lawyer had also previously represented Howard Gombert, who a witness had reported seeing the victim get into a car driven by Gombert on the day she was last seen. Several other women came forward saying that they had also been sexually molested by Gombert in a similar fashion, with their limbs bound and with clothing stuffed in their mouths. These women were not allowed to testify in Mr. DiPippo’s new trial, nor was Joseph Santoro, who was incarcerated with Gombert and had heard him talk about raping Wright, along with another young girl. Anthony DiPippo was again convicted in 2012, even though two of the three teenagers who had testified against him had recanted their testimonies, claiming that detectives had threated to charge them with the murder if they didn’t implicate Mr. DiPippo and Mr. Krivak. In 2016, Mr. DiPippo was again ordered a new trial, and this time the testimonies of Santoro and the other women who had been assaulted by Gombert were admitted. Additionally, Dominic Neglia recanted his initial accusation against Mr. DiPippo. On October 11th, 2016, Anthony DiPippo was acquitted and released after serving 19 years in prison.