Gov. Bush Ignores Murderer's Confession, Innocents Remain in Jail : LUSENET : Countryside : One Thread

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Gov. Bush's office ignored murder confession Two and a half years later, the two men convicted of the crime still sit in prison.

By Alan Berlow

Oct. 13, 2000 | On Feb. 25, 1998, the office of Texas Gov. George W. Bush received an extremely unusual letter. Handwritten in curly script across the top of the first page, just above the salutation -- "Dear Governor Bush Sir" -- were the words "RE: Murder Confession."

In the four-page letter its author, Achim Josef Marino, a 39-year-old state prison inmate serving a life sentence for aggravated robbery with a deadly weapon, described how he had "robbed, raped and shot" 20-year-old Nancy DePriest at a Pizza Hut in Austin in October 1988. Marino explained that at the time of the murder "I was insane," and that since then he had undergone a "Christian conversion" and "spiritual awakening" and was fully prepared to be executed for killing the young woman. Perhaps most startling about Marino's letter was his assertion that two innocent men were serving life sentences for a crime he himself committed. "Governor Bush Sir, I do not know these men nor why they plead [sic] guilty to a crime they never committed," Marino wrote, "but I tell you this sir, I did this awfull [sic] crime and I was alone."

Presented with evidence about a murder in the form of a confession and the possibility that two innocent men had been languishing in a Texas prison since 1988, what did Bush do? Nothing, according to Bush spokesman Mike Jones. Jones said the governor receives more than 1,400 letters from prisoners each year and, although he cannot recall ever receiving another murder confession by post, he insisted the letter was almost certainly not brought to Bush's attention. It was referred instead, Jones said, to the governor's general counsel and criminal justice staff, none of whom responded to Marino. Nor did anyone from Bush's office follow up on the matter with the Austin police, district attorney or, as Marino himself suggested in his letter, the two men convicted of the crime and their attorneys.

According to Jones, "no additional action was taken by us" because Marino wrote in his letter that he had already referred his allegations to the district attorney's office and the police. Bush's office took Marino at his word. "There was really no other role for the governor's office," Jones said.

Rosemary Lehmberg, first assistant district attorney for Travis County, confirmed she received no communication from Bush's office concerning any of Marino's claims. "I think I would know about that," she said. "I'm not aware of any contact."

Long after Marino wrote Bush's office, according to Lehmberg, her office finally began looking into the case. Lehmberg added that the Austin Police Department has also been looking into the allegations for "some time." A spokeswoman for the Austin police said the department does not talk about "ongoing homicide cases."

The possible existence of Marino's letter to the governor was first reported a few weeks ago on KVUE, the Austin ABC-TV affiliate. Salon was able to obtain a copy of the letter from the governor's office. (The office initially told reporters that it had no copy of the confession, before it was pointed out that the office was misspelling Marino's last name.)

Although Bush's office was under no legal obligation to turn over evidence relating to the crime, its failure to do so raises serious questions about the diligence of Texas' highest law enforcement authorities. Austin attorney Bill Allison represents Christopher Ochoa, one of the two young men whom Marino alleges were wrongly convicted for his crime. (The other is Richard Danziger.) According to Allison, Bush's office had a clear obligation after receiving the confession in the mail: "They should have turned it over to law enforcement."

-- Anne (, October 15, 2000


How to be a good Democrat... Sure is lonesome in WV

1. You have to believe the AIDS virus is spread by a lack of federal funding. 2. You have to believe that the same teacher who can't teach 4th graders how to read is somehow qualified to teach those same kids about sex. 3. You have to believe that guns in the hands of law- abiding Americans are more of a threat, than U.S. nuclear weapons technology, in the hands of Chinese communists. 4. You have to believe that there was no art before Federal funding. 5. You have to believe that global temperatures are less affected by cyclical, documented changes in the earth's climate, and more affected by yuppies driving SUVs. 6. You have to believe that gender roles are artificial but being homosexual is natural. 7. You have to be against capital punishment but support abortion on demand. 8. You have to believe that businesses create oppression and governments create prosperity. 9. You have to believe that hunters don't care about nature, but loony activists who've never been outside of Seattle do. 10. You have to believe that self-esteem is more important than actually doing something to earn it. 11. You have to believe the military, not corrupt politicians, start wars. 12. You have to believe the NRA is bad, because it supports certain parts of the Constitution, while the ACLU is good, because it supports certain parts of the Constitution. 13. You have to believe that taxes are too low, but ATM fees are too high. 14. You have to believe that Margaret Sanger and Gloria Steinmen are more important to American history than Thomas Jefferson, General Robert E. Lee or Thomas Edison. 15. You have to believe that standardized tests are racist, but racial quotas and set-asides aren't. 16. You have to believe Hillary Clinton is really a lady. 17. You have to believe that the only reason socialism hasn't worked anywhere it's been tried, is because the right people haven't been in charge. 18. You have to believe conservatives telling the truth belong in jail, but a liar and sex offender belongs in the White House. 19. You have to believe that homosexual parades displaying drag, transvestites and bestiality should be constitutionally protected and manger scenes at Christmas should be illegal. 20. You have to believe that illegal Democratic party funding by the Chinese is somehow in the best interest of the United States.

Lighten cast your vote; I"ll cast mine.

-- James (, October 15, 2000.

James, you are making assumptions about my party status and it ^$#&@s me off. Do you have anything to say about this topic? Or do you prefer to rant based upon assumptions?

-- Anne (, October 15, 2000.

Hey! The two of you take a time out.. Meet me at this site

Peace. JR

-- JR (, October 15, 2000.

Well said, James. Rock on!

-- Jim (, October 15, 2000.

Oh, swell. More religious ^%$#(.

-- Anne (, October 15, 2000.

Dear Anne, I'm a native texican, and I haven't read the particulars of this case in any regional papers yet, so I'll withhold my final opinion for a while. Meanwhile, isn't it convenient for a lifer to confess to someone else's crime. Did this lifer have a family? Did they recently get a new home or car?

Are these two innocents really innocent? I remember earlier this year when that poor soul who was going to be executed was turned into a saint by the press. He'd been convicted on one persons testimony. Papers didn't say a thing about the robberies and shooting rampage he'd went on earlier in the day.

Point is, are all the facts in? Why the confession now? Politics is a nasty art form. I'm sure if you hunt hard enough, you can find out information that both Gore and Bush both are satan worshippers. I buy a couple extra pounds of 'salt' this time of election I can take all opinions with a "grain of salt".

If these gentleman are innocent, the proper authorities will release them. Gov ain't letting no convicts loose on the word of another convict. If I were the governor, I certainly wouldn't, would you? If the word got out that that's what would free you, don't you think the floodgates would be opened?

-- phil briggs (, October 15, 2000.

Phil, I'm with you. The Y2K salt has come in handy!

I haven't heard much more about this, except the evasive manuevers typical of ANY campaign.

I hate to think anyone is punished wrongly, and I am sure that is what I'm reacting against. Thanks for sharing your opinion.

-- Anne (, October 15, 2000.

I'm Texan and I'm educated enough to know that the governor of Texas has nothing to do with what is written about above. The governor does not over rule courts, judges etc. All that above is pure liberal bunk. It has nothing to do with the governor but the courts. It's just like saying Governor W. lets murders be executed. That is the will of the people of Texas and executions are carried out by the state judicial departments and there's nothing the governor can do other than a one-time 30 day reprieve.

-- Joe Cole (, October 16, 2000.

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