Former Laguna student innocent in grade-changing case
By Christina Jewett -- Bee Staff Writer
Published 3:38 pm PDT Tuesday, August 15, 2006
A former Laguna Creek High School student was cleared Tuesday of 93 charges of grade changing and five counts of burglary in Sacramento juvenile court, ending more than a year of legal wrangling for 19-year-old college student Alexander Ochoa.
Sacramento Superior Court Judge Richard H. Gilmour declared Ochoa's innocence to a crowd of the teen's family, who let out cheers and applause.
Ochoa emerged from the court beaming and hugged his grandmother and other emotional family members.
"I never doubted my innocence - never," Ochoa, a college sophomore, said after the hearing.
Ochoa was accused in the spring of his senior year at Laguna Creek High School of inflating the grades of nearly 40 students. He was expelled from school after the grade-changing incident, but was later exonerated of the charges in a school hearing.
The 19-year-old said he plans to fly to Los Angeles Tuesday night, where he will join the Occidental College football team on its second day of training. Ochoa attended Occidental as a freshman on scholarship and said he plans to study to be a doctor.
Gilmour ruled that the prosecution did not prove Ochoa's guilt in any of the 98 charges. Gilmour said Ochoa's nearly "ironclad" alibis on days of alleged burglaries and grade-changing at the school cast doubt on Ochoa's sole involvement in the case.
He also noted that the three witnesses against Ochoa offered no evidence that he changed grades, and all had lied to officials in the course of the investigation.
Gilmour also noted the testimony of character witnesses in the trial, saying Ochoa was uniformly deemed to be a trustworthy and upstanding person.
Emphasis above is mine. Don't the two boldfaces statements above cry out for further explanation?
But he's been found 'not guilty'. So now we have to ask: who did it? Is it back to square one and start search ing for new criminals, or are the school and district now going to drop it because their case against this former student was so bad?