MuskogeePhoenix.com, Muskogee, OK

Oklahoma News

November 16, 2012

State parole board rejects condemned man's clemency plea

OKLAHOMA CITY — Oklahoma's parole board refused to recommend clemency Friday for a man set to die Dec. 4 for an Oklahoma City double-killing, despite his lawyers' claim that the inmate suffers from poor mental health and hallucinations.

The Pardon and Parole Board voted 4-1 against recommending that Gov. Mary Fallin reduce George Ochoa's sentence to life in prison.

Ochoa and another man were convicted in the May 1993 deaths of Francisco Morales and Maria Yanez, who prosecutors say were killed in front of their children.

"We ask the board to temper justice with mercy for Mr. Ochoa," defense lawyer David Autry said.

Appearing via a video feed from the state penitentiary in McAlester, Ochoa told the board he was innocent and that he hoped for clemency.

"I want the opportunity to be a part of my family's life," Ochoa said.

Ochoa made vague claims that he had been shocked and suffered injuries during his incarceration, but Assistant Attorney General Jennifer Miller suggested Ochoa's claims of hallucinations and harm may be an attempt to feign incompetence. Courts prohibit the execution of people who do not understand why they are being punished.

"There's a possibility that he is malingering," Miller said. She said earlier psychological evaluations showed no evidence of delusions or hallucinations, and that claims about such didn't start until he was charged.

Also convicted in the couple's deaths was Osbaldo Torres, a Mexican citizen whose sentence was reduced by then-Gov. Brad Henry in 2004. Henry imposed a life sentence after Mexican officials raised concerns Torres was not given a chance to speak with the Mexican consulate after being accused.

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