Convicting the Innocent
DNA Exonerations Database

Dennis Halstead

First NameDennis
Last NameHalstead
Year of Conviction1986
Year of Exoneration2005
State of ConvictionNew York
Trial, Bench Trial, or Guilty PleaTrial
Type of CrimeRape and Murder
Death SentenceNo
Gender of ExonereeMale
Race of exonereeWhite
Type of Innocence Defense
  • Alibi
Description / Quotes from Testimony Concerning Defense

● Witness testified that defendant was working at her house at the time of the crime.

Did the defendant testify at trial?Yes
Quotes from Exoneree Testimony

“Q: Dennis, did you ever see or meet or have the opportunity to be in the company of [the victim]? A: Never. Q: Did you know her or even hear of her prior to the day she disappeared? A: No. Q: On November 10th, 1984, Dennis, were you involved in any way with the abduction, rape and murder of [the victim[? A: Absolutely not.”

Types of evidence at trial
  • Forensic Evidence
  • Informant
Type of Forensic Evidence
  • Fingerprint
  • Hair
Types of Flawed Forensics
  • Vague
  • Valid (Excluded)
Brief Quote / Description of Testimony

The analyst testified that the hairs were “microscopically alike” and fingerprints excluded Halstead.

Jailhouse informant, Co-defendant, Incentivized WitnessJ, CD
Examples of Non-Public or Corroborated Facts and Inconsistencies● Non-public details by both jailhouse informant and codefendant, as well as additional witness ● See also Restivo
Quotes from testimony #3

“He told he his case is a rape and a murder but he didn’t kill them.” “He told me he and two of his friends, a guy named Dennis and a guy named John were out in his brother’s van that night, out by some kind of roller skating rink.” “He didn’t tell me how she got into the van, but after he told me she was in the van that Dennis grabbed the girl and John and they started forcing her to have sex and while John was — John was holding her, Dennis fucked her and then John went, then John didn’t really want to rape the girl and his friend said, ‘What are you, a pussy?” and he told me he fucker her but he told me right after that he didn’t kill the girl.” “That John Kogut, that he strangled her after with a scarf. And then, I asked him what did they do with the body? He told me they dumped the girl by some railroad tracks.” And he said the victim’s name. Additional witness testified that defendant had confessed with details to him.

Quotes regarding any deal or leniency with informant, or prior use of informant

Jailhouse informant denied any deal, “No deal was made, sir,” but he inculpated a co-defendant and pleaded guilty to lesser charges and received a lower sentence (4-8 years) than that originally sought (14 years). He said he had already obtained leniency for testifying against his co-defendant. However, he was in touch with police with this information before pleading guilty in his case. “You are acting as a snitch here in your mind? A. No. Q. You are acting as a man here? A. I’m doing what I feel is right.” Second informant admitted that prosecutors would recommend that he serve six months, lower than the prior offer of 10 months, and that police moved him to a “nice plush motel” and not jail, during trial.

Highest level reachedAppeal
Claims Raised During All Appeals and Postconviction
  • Bruton
  • Jackson Claim
  • Sixth Amendment Right to Counsel
Harmless Error Rulings
  • G
Citations to judicial opinions

People v. Halstead, 180 A.D.2d 818 (N.Y. App. Div. 2 Dept. 1992)
People v. Halstead, 602 N.E.2d 237 (N.Y. 1992)

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