|Scott Cobb, Chris Ochoa and Jeanette Popp|
in Austin on April 11, 2011
Christopher Ochoa and Jeanette Popp were in Austin to film interviews for an August 2011 program on the Discovery Network about wrongful convictions. Also in town was John Pray of the Wisconsin Innocence Project, which led the effort to exonerate Chris Ochoa.
Chris is an innocent person who was wrongfully convicted of murdering Jeanette's daughter, Nancy DePriest, in Austin. He spent 12 years in prison before another person confessed to the crime. He and a co-defendant, Richard Danziger, received a settlement of about 14 million dollars from the City of Austin for misconduct by the Austin Police Department leading to their wrongful convictions.
Jeanette Popp signed and wrote a note inside the front cover of her book "Mortal Justice: A True Story of Murder and Vindication" to one of the members of the House Criminal Jurisprudence Committee (We only had one copy of the book with us.) The note urged State Rep. Stefani Carter to read the story of how two innocent people were wrongfully convicted of her daughter's murder and urged Rep Carter to vote HB 1641, the bill for a moratorium on executions. We will drop the book off to Rep Carter's office.
Mortal Justice: A True Story of Murder and Vindication was published March 1, 2009. Jeanette has worked long and hard for many years against the death penalty. She served several years as chairperson of Texas Moratorium Network. Her book tells the story of her daughter's murder, the wrongful conviction of two innocent men Chris Ochoa and Richard Danziger, their eventual exoneration, the subsequent conviction of the real killer, and Jeanette's long activism against the death penalty, including a jailhouse meeting with the real killer and her successful efforts to prevent him from being sentenced to death.
In her new book, Jeanette includes an account of a jailhouse meeting with the man who actually killed her daughter before his trial because she wanted to convince him to take a plea bargain and accept life in prison istead of going to trial and risking the death penalty.
In the jailhouse meeting, she told him, "Mr Marino, you know I don't want you executed?"
"Ive heard that," he answered stoically.
"It's the truth. I don't want you to die."
He shook his head and told her, "Mrs Popp, I'd rather be executed than spend the rest of my life in prison."
From a Dallas Morning News article:
Ms. Popp asked prosecutors not to seek the death penalty, because she says she did not want her daughter's memory stained with someone's blood. "I'm not a bleeding heart liberal," she says. "But I do have a heart."
Since the exoneration, she has been an outspoken opponent of the death penalty. That doesn't mean she wants Mr. Marino to ever walk free.