Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus R. Vance, Jr., today announced the sentencing of STEVEN CARTER, 50, to 25 years-to-life in prison for the rape and murder of Antoinette Bennett in 1986. CARTER was convicted by a jury on June 21, 2012 of two counts of Murder in the Second Degree, including one count of murder for causing the victim’s death during the commission of a felony rape. After reopening the case in 2010, the Manhattan District Attorney Office’s Forensic Sciences/Cold Case Unit uncovered sufficient evidence to charge and secure a conviction against Carter by re-examining evidence and using new forensic techniques.
“The defendant committed an unspeakable crime against a young mother nearly 26 years ago,” said DA Vance. “In her final moments, the victim tried to fight off her attacker, and in doing so, left DNA evidence that led us to her killer. My Office created the Forensic Sciences/Cold Case Unit in 2010, committing significant resources and the expertise of some of the finest attorneys in the country to do a systematic review of more than 3,000 unsolved case files dating back to the 1970s. The Unit, with the help of the NYPD, is re-examining physical evidence in homicide and rape cases using new forensic techniques, as well as re-interviewing witnesses.
“This was the first homicide indictment, and now conviction, secured by the Unit based on DNA evidence in this systematic cold case review, and I hope it brings a measure closure to the victim’s families more than two decades later. Every victim deserves justice, and we will continue to use every law enforcement tool at our disposal to ensure that cold cases do not become forgotten cases.”
As proven at trial, in the morning hours of November 10, 1986, the victim’s body was found by park workers in a playground area in St. Nicholas Park. She was lying face down and had been strangled, stabbed in the face, and partially disrobed. Investigators from the New York City Office of the Chief Medical Examiner (OCME) in 1986 found semen on her inner thigh, but no further testing could be done at the time, and the case remained unsolved.
In 2010, the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office Forensic Sciences/Cold Case Unit reopened the case and re-examined evidence, including physical evidence held by OCME, which was used to create a DNA profile for CARTER.
Assistant District Attorney Melissa Mourges, Chief of the Forensic Sciences/Cold Case Unit, and Assistant District Attorney Bonnie Sard, Chief of the Conviction Integrity Program, handled the prosecution of this case. DANY Investigator Siobhan Berry assisted in the investigation.
District Attorney Vance thanked Craig O’Connor, Criminalist at the New York City Office of the Chief Medical Examiner, and members of the NYPD, including Manhattan North Homicide Task Force Detectives Ed Clifford and Nate Coniglio, for their work on this case.
STEVEN CARTER, D.O.B. 6/17/1962