Meet the Exonerees

Mario Rocha

State: California
Date of Birth: 1982
Incident Date: 02/16/1996
Age at Arrest: 16
Conviction Date: 1998
Age When Exonerated: 29
Exonerated Date: 2006
Time Served: 10
Conviction: Murder
False Confession: No
Implicated by Another Youth: Yes

Case Details

In 1996, sixteen-year-old Mario attended a party where two gang members opened fire, killing one of Rocha's well-respected classmates. Though witnesses testified to seeing Rocha running for cover along with the rest of the crowd, a tip from several young members of the gang responsible for the shooting led police to arrest Rocha just days later. He was accused of the slaying and tried as an adult. Although just a single teenage eyewitness implicated him at trial, Rocha was convicted and incarcerated. He was stabbed on two separate occasions by fellow inmates during his the ten years in prison. Mario was released after an appeals court held that he received ineffective assistance of counsel. The district attorney did not retry him.