imc indymedia

Los Angeles Indymedia : Activist News

white themeblack themered themetheme help
About Us Contact Us Calendar Publish RSS
Features
latest news
best of news
syndication
commentary


KILLRADIO

VozMob

ABCF LA

A-Infos Radio

Indymedia On Air

Dope-X-Resistance-LA List

LAAMN List




IMC Network:

Original Cities

www.indymedia.org africa: ambazonia canarias estrecho / madiaq kenya nigeria south africa canada: hamilton london, ontario maritimes montreal ontario ottawa quebec thunder bay vancouver victoria windsor winnipeg east asia: burma jakarta japan korea manila qc europe: abruzzo alacant andorra antwerpen armenia athens austria barcelona belarus belgium belgrade bristol brussels bulgaria calabria croatia cyprus emilia-romagna estrecho / madiaq euskal herria galiza germany grenoble hungary ireland istanbul italy la plana liege liguria lille linksunten lombardia london madrid malta marseille nantes napoli netherlands nice northern england norway oost-vlaanderen paris/Île-de-france patras piemonte poland portugal roma romania russia saint-petersburg scotland sverige switzerland thessaloniki torun toscana toulouse ukraine united kingdom valencia latin america: argentina bolivia chiapas chile chile sur cmi brasil colombia ecuador mexico peru puerto rico qollasuyu rosario santiago tijuana uruguay valparaiso venezuela venezuela oceania: adelaide aotearoa brisbane burma darwin jakarta manila melbourne perth qc sydney south asia: india mumbai united states: arizona arkansas asheville atlanta austin baltimore big muddy binghamton boston buffalo charlottesville chicago cleveland colorado columbus dc hawaii houston hudson mohawk kansas city la madison maine miami michigan milwaukee minneapolis/st. paul new hampshire new jersey new mexico new orleans north carolina north texas nyc oklahoma philadelphia pittsburgh portland richmond rochester rogue valley saint louis san diego san francisco san francisco bay area santa barbara santa cruz, ca sarasota seattle tampa bay tennessee urbana-champaign vermont western mass worcester west asia: armenia beirut israel palestine process: fbi/legal updates mailing lists process & imc docs tech volunteer projects: print radio satellite tv video regions: oceania united states topics: biotech

Surviving Cities

www.indymedia.org africa: canada: quebec east asia: japan europe: athens barcelona belgium bristol brussels cyprus germany grenoble ireland istanbul lille linksunten nantes netherlands norway portugal united kingdom latin america: argentina cmi brasil rosario oceania: aotearoa united states: austin big muddy binghamton boston chicago columbus la michigan nyc portland rochester saint louis san diego san francisco bay area santa cruz, ca tennessee urbana-champaign worcester west asia: palestine process: fbi/legal updates process & imc docs projects: radio satellite tv
printable version - js reader version - view hidden posts - tags and related articles

False Confessions happen all the time

by I didn't do it Thursday, Jun. 22, 2006 at 1:07 PM

Of the 180 inmates in the United States exonerated by DNA testing in the last two decades, 44 had falsely confessed.

http://www.latimes.com/news/local/la-me-confess21jun21,0,3064103.story?coll=la-home-local

Freed Man Gives Lesson on False Confessions

An ex-inmate tells a California panel how Texas police coerced him into admitting to murder.

By Henry Weinstein, Times Staff Writer

June 21, 2006

Seventeen years ago, Christopher Ochoa told a Texas jury exactly how he and a friend repeatedly raped 20-year-old Nancy DePriest and then shot her dead at the Pizza Hut where she worked.



The details were so gruesome that DePriest's mother, Jeanette Popp, fled the courtroom and threw up in a bathroom. Ochoa and his co-defendant, Richard Danziger, who steadfastly maintained his innocence, both received life sentences.

But Ochoa's story was a lie — a total lie.

He had been threatened with the death penalty by a police detective if he did not admit that he and Danziger murdered DePriest; he also had to testify against Danziger. The two young men worked at a different pizza place and came under suspicion after they toasted DePriest's memory with beers at the scene of the murder.

But the fact that Ochoa confessed falsely did not come to light until 2000, four years after the real killer, already serving three life terms for other crimes, told police in Austin, Texas, that he was responsible for the young woman's death.

The account by Achim Joseph Marino, by then a born-again Christian, had for several years been given short shrift. Eventually, with the help of pro bono attorneys, DNA tests were performed and the two men were exonerated.

Today, Ochoa, 39, and Popp, 56, are testifying in Los Angeles at a hearing of the state's Commission on the Fair Administration of Justice about the ramifications of their experience for California. In particular, they want to express their strong feelings about a subject that many people find difficult to grasp: that innocent people sometimes really do confess to crimes they did not commit.

Ochoa and Popp said they would urge the commission to recommend legislation requiring that police be required to videotape every moment of their contact with a suspect to avoid false confessions.

False confessions "do happen, a lot more often than people think," Ochoa said.

Added Popp: "I have heard lots of people say I would never do that — never confess to something I didn't do. How do you know what you would do if you were in that interrogation room with the man I call 'El Diablo'? " referring to the lead police investigator.

"Cases like this reveal in very dramatic terms that this does happen — not just with people who are mentally ill or of limited intelligence or otherwise vulnerable, such as children," said Keith A. Findley, a University of Wisconsin law professor and co-director of the school's Innocence Project. He played an instrumental role in securing freedom for Ochoa and Danziger.

"It happens with mentally healthy, intelligent people like Chris Ochoa," who last month graduated from the law school where Findley teaches, the professor said.

Indeed, of the 180 inmates in the United States exonerated by DNA testing in the last two decades, 44 had falsely confessed, said New York attorney Barry Scheck, a co-founder of the Innocence Project at New York's Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law who also played a key role in the case.

On Oct. 24, 1988, DePriest, the mother of a 15-month-old girl, was found lying nude at a Pizza Hut in north Austin. Her hands were bound behind her. She had been raped and shot in the head.

The true story of her murder started to emerge just three weeks before the 2000 presidential election, a time when the Texas criminal justice system was under media scrutiny because more than 150 people had been executed during the administration of then-Gov. George W. Bush.

A spokesman for Bush acknowledged at the time that Bush had received a confession letter from Marino in February 1998, but said he did not turn it over to law enforcement authorities because Marino said he also was sending it to the Travis County district attorney's office.

Marino's four-page letter, also sent to the Austin police and a local newspaper, said he had "robbed, raped and shot" DePriest at the Pizza Hut in October 1988.

Eventually, Travis County Dist. Atty. Ronnie Earle re-opened the case. The DNA tests cleared Ochoa and Danziger, who were released from prison in 2001 after serving 12 years. Both men filed federal civil rights lawsuits alleging that Austin police officials failed to properly train or monitor three homicide investigators and that the officers threatened violence, fabricated Ochoa's confession and destroyed and hid exculpatory evidence.

Two years after the two men's release, the Austin City Council decided to settle with both of them. Ochoa, 22 at the time of his arrest, got .3 million. Danziger, who was 19 when he was arrested, got more — million from the city and million from the county — in part because he sustained permanent brain damage from a prison beating.

Popp actively supported the men's release. When she heard on television that the two might have been wrongly convicted, she said, "my knees began to shake. My first reaction was anger — why were they trying to get these boys off; the evidence I heard in the courtroom was extremely strong."

But she talked with Findley and looked at documents.

"I knew we had done a horrible thing. I say 'we' even though I was not involved in sending them to prison. I somehow felt responsible," Popp said in a lengthy interview. She sent Ochoa and Danziger letters saying "how sorry I was," and soon gave an interview to a local newspaper saying they should be freed.

She went to court the day Ochoa was released and sat with his mother as the judge who had sentenced him said there had been a "clear miscarriage of justice."

Months later, she went to see Marino, the real killer, who was awaiting trial at a jail in Austin. From Marino, she learned, contrary to trial testimony, that her daughter had not begged for mercy. Marino said DePriest's only words were, "Please don't hurt me." She also learned that her daughter had been raped once, not numerous times, as Ochoa had confessed after being fed a story by police investigators.

Popp said she remained disturbed that no action was taken against lead police investigator Hector Polanco, who retired shortly after it became clear that Ochoa and Danziger were innocent. Polanco said DePriest "was repeatedly sodomized, raped eight times, begged for her life. He made these things up. I had nightmares for 12 years," Popp said.

Marino was convicted later and received another life sentence. After the jailhouse meeting, Popp successfully urged prosecutors not to seek the death penalty. Since then, she frequently has spoken out against capital punishment.

Ochoa, who was chosen by his law school classmates to be one of the speakers at their graduation, said most people had no grasp of why a person would make a false confession.

Ochoa, who was questioned for more than 20 hours over two days, said in an interview Tuesday that he told officers repeatedly that he did not know anything about DePriest's murder but that eventually his will was broken. He said he was afraid that he would be executed, as police detectives had threatened, if he did not confess.

During his interrogation, Ochoa said, Polanco "told me I would be 'fresh meat' for the other inmates, which I took to mean rape." He said Polanco also showed him pictures of death row, and DePriest's autopsy photos. At one point, Ochoa said, the detective rapped him on the arm and said "that's where the needle will go," referring to lethal injection in the Texas death chamber.

"They kept saying, 'You are going to get the death penalty. This is a high-profile case. The community wants someone to die,' " Ochoa recalled. He knew he had done nothing, but he started to worry.

"I was taught to trust the cops," Ochoa said. He said that when he asked to call a lawyer, one of the officers told him he could not do that until he had been charged. After Ochoa was charged and told his defense lawyer how he had been intimidated, the attorney didn't believe him.

"I always have been amazed at someone saying what a 'reasonable person' would do in that situation," Ochoa said. "That kind of rational thinking cost me 13 years of my life."
Report this post as:

Local News

Change Links September 2018 posted S02 10:22PM

More Scandals Rock Southern California Nuke Plant San Onofre A30 11:09PM

Site Outage Friday A30 3:49PM

Change Links August 2018 A14 1:56AM

Setback for Developer of SC Farm Land A12 11:09PM

More problems at Shutdown San Onofre Nuke J29 10:40PM

Change Links 2018 July posted J09 8:27PM

More Pix: "Families Belong Together," Pasadena J02 7:16PM

"Families Belong Together" March, Pasadena J02 7:08PM

Short Report on the Families Belong Together Protest in Los Angeles J30 11:26PM

Summer 2018 National Immigrant Solidarity Network News Alert! J11 6:58AM

Watch the Debate: Excluded Candidates for Governor of California M31 5:20AM

Change Links June 2018 posted M28 7:41AM

The Montrose Peace Vigil at 12 Years M22 8:01PM

Unity Archive Project M21 9:42AM

Dianne Feinstein's Promotion of War, Secret Animal Abuse, Military Profiteering, Censorshi M17 10:22PM

CA Senate Bill 1303 would require an independent coroner rather than being part of police M10 9:08PM

Three years after OC snitch scandal, no charges filed against sheriffs deputies M10 8:57PM

California police agencies violate Brown Act (open meetings) M02 8:31PM

Insane Company Wants To Send Nuke Plant Waste To New Mexico A29 11:47PM

Change Links May 2018 A27 8:40AM

Worker-Owned Car Wash on Vermont Closed A27 5:37AM

GUIDE TO REBEL CITY LOS ANGELES AVAILABLE A13 12:39AM

lausd whistle blower A11 6:58AM

Website Upgrade A10 10:02AM

Help KCET and UCLA identify 60s-70s Chicano images A04 8:02PM

UCLA Luskin: Casting Youth Justice in a Different Light A02 6:58PM

Change Links April 2018 A01 6:27PM

More Local News...

Other/Breaking News

OUR HOUSE Grief Support Center Celebrates 25 Years with the House of Hope Gala S24 7:10PM

Against the Rent Madness and For a Nonprofit Orientation! S24 11:56AM

Cybermonde, cyberguerre, cyberespace, cyberterrorisme S24 6:35AM

Paraphysique de psychosomatique S22 6:58AM

Chuck Grassley: Women Abusing, Animal Murdering, Illegal War Supporting Criminal S22 2:58AM

Finance Capitalism and the Digital Economy S21 4:45PM

Muselières syndicales, muselières patronales S21 7:19AM

Jeff Bezos, Amazon, The Washington Post, Whole Foods, Etc S21 2:50AM

Why Choose Nut Milk Over Cows' Milk S21 1:01AM

Antrhopocène, le grand effondrement S19 9:53AM

Abolir l'économie S18 11:18AM

The Dictatorship of Corporations S17 5:26PM

18 Lethal Consequences Of Hunting S17 3:13PM

Paraphysique de l'outplacement déontologue S15 6:51AM

Shopping du bashing S14 8:42AM

After Lehman Brothers, Experts Say Global Financial Crisis Can Happen Again S13 8:28PM

“Animaniacs in Concert!” Starring Voice Legend Rob Paulsen S12 9:30PM

Probabilités de fin d'humanité S12 6:49AM

Florida Area of Migrant Farmworkers Denied Right to Construct Health Clinic near NaplesCIW S11 2:57AM

Steer clear of work morality! S09 12:10PM

The Shortwave Report 09/07/18 Listen Globally! S06 11:23PM

August 2018 Honduras Coup update S06 12:28PM

Brett Kavanaugh Filled The 5th Circuit With Execution Judges S06 6:14AM

Augusta Georgia Woman Gets 5 Year Prison Sentence for Writing About Russians Crime Acts S05 8:29AM

Paraphysique de contextualité S05 8:29AM

Crisis Regulation in Global Capitalism S03 3:39PM

Ex-voto de réification S03 10:24AM

Please Oppose Warmonger, Execution and Torture Supporting Bush Operative Brett Kavanaugh A31 10:45PM

More Breaking News...
© 2000-2018 Los Angeles Independent Media Center. Unless otherwise stated by the author, all content is free for non-commercial reuse, reprint, and rebroadcast, on the net and elsewhere. Opinions are those of the contributors and are not necessarily endorsed by the Los Angeles Independent Media Center. Running sf-active v0.9.4 Disclaimer | Privacy