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Op-Ed: New York needs to preserve evidence

Posted: June 15, 2007 11:25 am

In today’s Buffalo News, 2006 exoneree Alan Newton writes that a wrongful conviction condemned him to a cage for the prime years of his life, and that his incarceration lasted longer than it should have due to mistakes in cataloguing of evidence by the New York City Police Department.

The DNA evidence that eventually proved my innocence was initially reported as lost or damaged. For years before my exoneration last July, I asked the State of New York and the New York Police Department to produce the evidence they had collected. I requested a search for the evidence three times; each time I was told that it could not be found.

In 2004, the Innocence Project accepted my case and requested one final search for the evidence. Imagine my surprise when I learned that the rape kit was found in the exact spot where it was supposed to be all along. There are hundreds of others like (Anthony) Capozzi and me — people with credible claims of innocence that could be proven by DNA, but in many cases, the biological evidence will never be found. In a sense, we are the lucky ones.

Read the full article here. (Buffalo News, 06/15/07, Payment required for full article)
Newton also writes about Buffalo exoneree Anthony Capozzi, whose evidence was found this year in a hospital drawer, leading to DNA testing that proved his innocence after he had served 20 years in prison for a crime he didn’t commit.

Issue in focus: Evidence Preservation Reforms Nationwide

Tags: New York, Anthony Capozzi, Alan Newton, Evidence Preservation



Anthony Capozzi case on DatelineNBC tonight

Posted: September 5, 2007 5:22 pm

Anthony Capozzi spent 21 years in New York prison for two rapes he didn’t commit before DNA testing proved his innocence and pointed to the real perpetrator – a man named Altemio Sanchez who has since pled guilty to committing at least three area murders. Although DNA tests on evidence from several area rapes match Sanchez, including those of which Capozzi was wrongfully convicted, Sanchez could not be charged because the statute of limitations had run out. Sanchez was sentenced this month to 75 years to life for the three murders.

Tonight at 10 p.m. ET on NBC, Dateline profiles the investigation that led Sanchez’s arrest and Capozzi’s exoneration.

Read a preview of the show on Dateline’s website.

Read more about Anthony Capozzi’s case on our website, or in this Washington Post article.

Tags: Anthony Capozzi



New York detective suspended for speaking out on wrongful conviction cases

Posted: February 29, 2008 4:25 pm

A Buffalo, New York, cold case squad detective was suspended without pay this week for speaking publicly about two cold cases in which evidence showed that a man and woman were in prison for crimes they didn’t commit. Dennis Delano, a 28-year veteran of the Buffalo Police Department, has been suspended for allegedly compromising the nature of investigations with his public statements.

Delano’s work has been key to the release of two wrongfully convicted individuals in Buffalo in recent months – Anthony Capozzi and Lynn DeJac. Capozzi was exonerated by DNA evidence last year after serving two decades in prison for two rapes he didn’t commit. DeJac was officially cleared yesterday when prosecutors dropped all pending charges against her. She served 13 years for allegedly killing her 13-year-old daughter in 1933. Three medical examiners have now said the girl died of a cocaine overdose, not strangulation.

Nationwide, police officers and other law enforcement authorities can play an important role in uncovering wrongful convictions – often through investigations of other cold cases that reveal evidence of wrongful convictions.  Capozzi and DeJac have both publicly said that without Delano’s commitment to uncovering the truth in their cases, they would not have been exonerated.

The suspension of Detective Delano has caused a stir in Buffalo today, with his supporters saying he was being unfairly punished for continuing to pursue the DeJac case against direct orders from superiors.

"The charges against Mr. Delano are extremely serious in nature and his actions have compromised the integrity of the Buffalo Police Department," today’s statement (from Police Commissioner H. McCarthy Gipson) said.

Police sources previously said Gipson had suspended Delano with pay this week for allegedly providing an investigative videotape from the Lynn DeJac case to a local television station.

Read the full story here. (Buffalo News, 02/29/08)
DeJac and her supporters do not believe her daughter died of a cocaine overdose.  They have suggested that the police and prosecutor changed the cause of death to avoid being held accountable for DeJac’s wrongful conviction.  The crime scene video that aired on local television news stations supported the theory that the girl died from violence (rather than a drug overdose).  There is no evidence that Delano provided the video to the local television station.

Read more about the Capozzi and DeJac cases.

Tags: New York, Anthony Capozzi



Wednesday marks first anniversary of Anthony Capozzi's exoneration

Posted: March 31, 2008 10:50 am

One year ago Wednesday, Anthony Capozzi was released from prison after spending 20 years in prison for a crime he didn't commit. He was wrongfully convicted in 1985 of two brutal rapes that took place in Delaware Park in Buffalo, New York.

Capozzi became a suspect in a series of rapes committed in a Buffalo park after passersby noticed him acting strangely in the area. His noted behavior was in part due to his medically diagnosed schizophrenia. Although his physical appearance didn't match the victims' descriptions of the attacker, he was identified in court by all three victims and was sentenced to 35 years in prison.

Last year, biological evidence from the crimes - believed for years to be lost - was found in a hospital drawer at the Erie County Medical Center and was finally tested for DNA. The DNA results not only excluded Capozzi of the crime, but also pointed to the identity of the actual perpetrator, a man named Altemio Sanchez, who is currently incarcerated for similar crimes.

Watch a Dateline NBC episode on the case, "On the Trail of the Bike Path Rapist"

Read more about Capozzi's case here.

Other exoneration anniversaries this week:

Thursday: Eddie Lowery, Kansas (Served 9.5 years, Exonerated 4/3/03)

Dennis Maher, Massachusetts (Served 19 years, Exonerated 4/3/03)

Friday: Harold Buntin, Indiana (Served 13 years, Exonerated 4/4/05)

Saturday: Terry Chalmers, New York (Served 7.5 years, Exonerated 4/5/95)

Tags: Harold Buntin, Anthony Capozzi, Terry Chalmers, Eddie James Lowery, Dennis Maher



Friday Roundup: Independence and Freedom

Posted: July 2, 2010 1:43 pm

New York exoneree Anthony Capozzi settled a lawsuit against the state for $4.25 million for the two decades he spent in prison after he was wrongfully convicted of raping two women in 1987.  He was exonerated in 2007.

Florida’s new Actual Innocence Commission is taking shape, as Innocence Project of Florida Executive Director Seth Miller writes on the group’s blog.

Two crime labs that Georgia had slated to close will stay open to ensure that investigations are unhindered, the Associated Press reported today.

Tags: Anthony Capozzi, Bad Lawyering