Wrongly accused man starts his freshman year at GWU after ten years’s imprisonment

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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 hisĀ 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

6 Comments on “Wrongly accused man starts his freshman year at GWU after ten years’s imprisonment

  1. Wow, I am sure glad that Mario has had an opportunity to change his life and become a productive member of society. Where is Martin Aceves now…oh yeah wait he is still dead. Never had a chance to live due to the fact that Mario and the people he associated with shot and killed him. What a shame this criminal system. Study your little criminal justice class so one day you can defend the other “homies” who get locked up for murder.

  2. @ Tony

    You are an idiot. Obviously you can’t grasp the concept of EXONERATION….it is WRONGFUL IMPRISONMENT. Wrongful as in not right or righteous. False as in not true. He was innocent you racist prick. He did a decade in prison with pristine behavior and passed a polygraph test as well repeated conversations with his exoneration team, which I believe were all highly educated and intelligent. You seem educated but the intelligence is clearly lacking.

  3. He was proved innocent. A lie test don’t lie. Maybe he guilty of hanging out with the wrong people but when an innocent man got shot Mario wasn’t even in the front but the back talking to some ladies. so how is he still guilty? he is not. He done nothing wrong. It was a case of being at the wrong place at the wrong time even witnesses testify he was not in the front when the innocent man got shot. I am sorry about his death. We all are but MARIO ROCA was neither a partner in crime nor the shooter, but someone who knew the real shooter as a friends. I am sure he all growth up and wise and know now who to be friend with. He didn’t even knew that his so called friends has a gun and was gang member. but you know something we don’t always know our friends. My son learns that when his once close friend who turner ganger and turner on him. They went to school together but when they got older, his friend was no longer his friend.

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