Christopher Ochoa’s testimony to a Texas jury about how he committed a rape and murder was a lie, says the Los Angeles Times. He had been threatened with the death penalty by a police detective if he did not say that he had a role in the murder. The fact that he 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, Tx., that he was responsible. Today, Ochoa, 39, and a co-defendant are testifying in Los Angeles at a hearing of the state’s Commission on the Fair Administration of Justice.
They want to express their strong feelings that innocent people sometimes really do confess to crimes they did not commit. Ochoa will 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. Of the 180 inmates in the U.S. exonerated by DNA testing in the last two decades, 44 had falsely confessed, said Barry Scheck, a co-founder of the Innocence Project at New York’s Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law.