After serving 20 years for two wrongful convictions, Anthony DiPippo was recently acquitted and released from prison thanks to the work of two Brooklyn Law School graduates: Mark Baker ’72 and Marc Agnifilo ’90.
DiPippo was first convicted in 1997 for the 1994 rape and murder of a 12-year-old girl in Putnam County, New York. The Appellate Division, Second Department, ordered a new trial in 2011 after allegations that his attorney in the first trial had a conflict of interest. He was convicted again in 2012, but a favorable ruling from the Court of Appeals in March won him a new trial with Baker and Agnifilo as counsel.
The attorneys used “reverse Molineux” evidence to argue that another man who was in prison for a similar crime—Howard Gombert—was the real perpetrator. In People v. Monineux in 1901, the court limited the use of evidence relating to previous, uncharged crimes. Not only had Gombert admitted to this crime while serving time in a Connecticut prison, the methods he used to attack another victim—who testified during the trial—were very similar to those DiPippo was accused of using.
After a five-week trial, the jury deliberated for about five hours and decided to set DiPippo free.
“In my career, I’ve walked five people out of prison after demonstrating their innocence, either on appeal, or on a subsequent proceeding,” said Baker. “Actually vindicating somebody—that’s a real high. We’re thrilled with the result and we do believe in his innocence.”
Baker, a New York City-based criminal appeals and post-conviction/post-judgment motion litigation attorney, also has served as a supervising attorney at the Cardozo Law School Criminal Appeals Clinic since 1993. He commended the growth of such programs around the country and at Brooklyn Law School.
Agnifilo, Senior Litigation Counsel at the New York City firm Brafman & Associates, concentrates on complex criminal cases in state and federal courts and internal corporate investigations in his practice. At Brooklyn Law School, he was on the Moot Court trial team and served as vice chairperson of Moot Court. He also said an Advanced Evidence Seminar at the Law School prepared him for his later work at the District Attorney and U.S. Attorney’s Offices.
“That kind of set the table for rest of my life,” Agnifilo said. “The DiPippo case is just the latest—and maybe the greatest—in hundreds of trials that really started with trial advocacy at Brooklyn Law School.