July 02, 2007

The difference between being white and not:

In the Duke Lacrosse case, the prosecutor had an eyewitness claim to a crime, but had DNA evidence that contradicted his theory. He withheld the DNA evidence, but the lawyers for the defense were able to bring all evidence to light and get the charges dropped prior to trial. The prosecutor has since been stripped of his law license.

James Ochoa was accused of committing a carjacking in Orange County, California. The victims identified Mr. Ochoa as the man who carjacked them. The prosecutor had an easy case. Unfortunately, the DNA evidence came back pointing towards a different man, not in the DNA database as the attacker. So, the prosecutors did not disclose the evidence to Mr. Ochoa, and took the case to trial. The judge gave Mr. Ochoa a choice: Face trial, and up to 25 years to life maximum sentence or plead guilty to a crime he did not commit, and agree to two years in jail. Mr. Ochoa pled guilty. Ten months into his two year sentence, a man in Los Angeles County was arrested on an unrelated crime. When his DNA was tested, it showed a positive match to the DNA collected in the Ochoa case. Confronted with the evidence, this man quickly confessed to the crime.

It was only at that time that Ochoa was freed from jail. The white, affluent men accused in the Duke lacrosse case served no time in jail and saw their prosecutor fall from grace. James Ochoa spent nearly a year in jail for a crime he did not commit, and his prosecutor was not reprimanded.

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