Wrongly accused man starts his freshman year at GWU after ten years’s imprisonment
Mario Rocha at GWU
A lot of students have to overcome adversity in order to get to college, but Mario Rocha, who is about to complete his first semester at George Washington University, pretty much has all other students beat: prior to arriving on GWU’s campus, the 30-year-old freshman spent 10 years in prison, having been wrongfully convicted of first-degree murder.
In his Washington Post profile of Rocha, Daniel De Vise writes that Rocha was incarcerated for the murder of Martin Aceves, who shot to death at a Los Angeles house party in 1996, when he was 16 years old. Four years ago, he was found to have been wrongfully convicted. He was tried as an adult and sentenced to 35 years imprisonment.
In the juvenile detention center where he was incarcerated, he began creative writing. He drew the attention of a nun, Sister Janet Harris, who found an attorney to advocate for his release. De Vise writes that Rocha stayed incredibly positive during an excruciatingly slow fight for his release—at one point consoling the attorneys who were prepared to console him when they experienced another setback in court.
After he was released, Rocha was the subject of a lauded documentary, “Mario’s Story.” He currently “is taking courses in physical geography, women’s studies, weight training and the media, along with Introduction to Criminal Justice, a subject to which he presumably needs no introduction.”
Rocha is attending GWU on a scholarship which he accepted with some reluctance.
Not to be flippant, but that must have been one hell of an admissions essay.
Photo from the GW Hatchet