Wrongly Convicted Database Record

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Mario Rocha


Years Imprisoned:

10

Charge:

Murder and Attempted Murder

Sentence:

35 years to life imprisonment

Year Convicted:

1996

Year Cleared:

2007

Location of Trial:

California

Result:

Judicially Exonerated Released

Summary of Case:

Mario Rocha was wrongly convicted in 1996 of a murder and attempted murder that occurred at a party in El Monte, California in 1996. Mario Rocha, 16-years-old at the time of the shooting, was sentenced to 35 years to life for the murder and 29 years to life for the attempted murder. The California Court of Appeals affirmed his conviction in 1999 in an unpublished decision. Three exculpatory witnesses were discovered after Rocha's conviction and his state habeas corpus petition was based on his trial lawyer's ineffectiveness for failing to conduct an investigation and locate the witnesses prior to trial. On December 28, 2005 the California Court of Appeals overturned Rocha's conviction and ordered a new trial on the basis that his attorney had provided ineffective assistance of counsel for failing to conduct an adequate pre-trial investigation. After the California Supreme Court upheld the appeals court's order, Rocha was released on August 24, 2006 after more than 10 years of imprisonment. On October 28, 2008 the charges were dismissed when the prosecution announced they would not seek Rocha's retrial. On December 12, 2013 California's Victim's Claim Board approved payment of $305,900 to Mario Rocha for his 3,059 days of wrongful incarceration after his conviction.

Conviction Caused By:

Erroneous and possibly perjurious eyewitness testimony.

Innocence Proved By:

On December 28, 2005 the California Court of Appeals overturned Rocha's conviction and ordered a new trial on the basis that his attorney had provided ineffective assistance of counsel for failing to conduct an adequate pre-trial investigation. After the California Supreme Court upheld the appeals court's order, Rocha was released on August 24, 2006 after more than 10 years of false imprisonment. On October 28, 2008 the charges were dismissed when the prosecution announced they would not seek Rocha's retrial.

Defendant Aided By:

Compensation Awarded:

$305,900 (December 2013)

Was Perpetrator Found?

Age When Imprisoned:

16

Age When Released:

27

Information Source 1:

C.A. orders new trial for man convicted of gang-related murder, By Kenneth Ofgang (staff), Metropolitan News-Enterprise (Los Angeles), December 29, 2005

Information Location 1:

www.metnews.com/articles/2005/roch122905.htm

Information Source 2:

The returning of freedom, Mario's blog (Mario Rocha's blog), August 24, 2007

Information Location 2:

http://mariostory.typepad.com/marios_blog/2007/08/index.html

Information Source 3:

LA man cleared of murder after decade in prison, By Greg Risling, The Press-Enterprise, October 28, 2008

Information Location 3:

http://www.pe.com/ap_news/California/CA_Murder_Charge_Dismissed_366220C.shtml

Information Source 4:

In the Matter of the Claim of Mario Rocha, Victim Compensation and Government Claims Board of the State of California, December 17, 2013

Information Location 4:

http://www.vcgcb.ca.gov/docs/pc4900/PC-4900-Approved-Rocha.pdf

Information Source 5:

Information Location 5:

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Innocents Database Created and Maintained by Hans Sherrer innocents@forejustice.org