Convicting the Innocent
DNA Exonerations Database

John Restivo

First NameJohn
Last NameRestivo
Year of Conviction1987
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
  • Third Party Guilt
Description / Quotes from Testimony Concerning Defense

● Telephone records showed defendant receiving a call at his home from his mother-in-law for 11 minutes at the time the crime occurred. Friend described sanding floors with defendant the night of the crime.

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

“Q: Were you with John Kogut and Dennis Halstead on the night of Novemner 18th, 1984? A: No. Q: Were you in your van in Lynbrook on November 10th, 1984? A: No. Q: Did you rape [the victim]? A: No. Never. Absolutely not. Q: Did you watch her be killed? A: No. Q: Did you watch her strangled? A: No. Q: Were you there at all, John? A: No. Q: Where were you that night? A: I was home.”

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

The analyst testified that hairs were “microscopically alike.” The latent fingerprints excluded.

Jailhouse informant, Co-defendant, Incentivized WitnessJ
Examples of Non-Public or Corroborated Facts and Inconsistencies● Details included how victim was killed (strangulation). ● Non-public details in John Kogut’s reported and false confession see False Confessions Appendix. ● Non-public details in jailhouse informant’s statements (see Halstead)
Quotes from testimony #3

Jailhouse informant testified that Restivo “told me about his two friends who he did it with, a guy named Dennis and a guy named John, that they were in his brother’s van when they seen this girl… they started forcing her to have sex.” Second informant stated that Halstead told him “I didn’t kille her. I just raped her,” and that he described how Kogut had killed the victim with a “moving strap” or a rope. Additional witness said Halstead had told her “That he didn’t murder her. That he only raped her.”

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). 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
  • Brady
  • Jackson Claim
  • State Law Evidence Claim
Harmless Error Rulings
  • G
Citations to judicial opinions

People v. Restivo, 209 A.D.2d 448 (N.Y. App. Div. 2 Dept. 1994)
People v. Restivo, 673 N.E.2d 1250 (N.Y. 1996)

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