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.