James Ochoa spent nearly two years in California prison for a carjacking he didn’t commit before DNA testing proved his innocence and led police to the real perpetrator. After Ochoa’s exoneration, news reports revealed that prosecutors attempted to exert pressure on a crime lab analyst to falsify the test results to say that he hadn’t been cleared.
Now the same prosecutor’s office is seeking partial control of the county crime lab, and Ochoa argues that his case should be enough reason to maintain independence at the lab. He sent a letter yesterday to the Orange County Board of Supervisors, which today is considering a proposal to create a three-member panel, including the district attorney, to control the county’s forensic lab. The letter reads, in part:
The fact that the prosecution proceeded with my case in order to protect their image when they knew they had insufficient evidence demonstrated to me that the District Attorney’s office is willing to go too far. After what happened to me, it is pretty clear that the District Attorney doesn’t care about guilt or innocence; he cares about his career.