McAlester News-Capital, McAlester, OK

Police/Courts

October 4, 2012

Execution date requested for Okla. death row inmate

McALESTER — Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt filed a request Monday with the Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals to set an execution date for George Ochoa, a 38-year-old Oklahoma State Penitentiary death row inmate.

“Ochoa was convicted and sentenced to death for the first-degree murders of Francisco Morales, 38, and wife, Maria Yanez, 35,” Pruitt states in a recent press release. “According to the report, Morales suffered 12 gunshot wounds and Yanez suffered 11 gunshot wounds while in their bedroom the morning of July 12, 1993. ... The victim’s children were in the home at the time of the murders.”

According to court records, Morales and Yanez were shot and killed in their bedroom in the early morning hours of July 12, 1993. The sound of gunfire woke Yanez’s 14-year-old daughter, court records state, and she called 911 before looking out her bedroom door. “(She) saw two men,” court records state.

The young girl at first denied knowing the men, but eventually identified them as Ochoa and Osvaldo Torres, court records state. The young girl’s 11-year-old step brother saw one of the men shoot his father, court records state.

Ochoa and Torres were arrested “a short distance from the homicide,” court records state. “A short time before the shootings, Torres and Ochoa parked their car at a friend’s house,” court records state. “A witness observed one of the men take a gun from the trunk of the car and put the gun in his pants.”

Both Torres and Ochoa were tried and sentenced to death for the murders.

“However, in 2004, former Gov. Brad Henry commuted Torres’ sentence to life in prison without the possibility of parole,” Pruitt states in a press release.

During his 2004 clemency hearing, Torres admitted that he had planned to burglarize Morales’ and Yanez’s home. “I never killed anyone. And I never knew George was going to kill anyone.”

Ochoa has been in custody at OSP since April 1, 1996, less than two weeks after he was convicted of first degree murder.

Contact Rachel Petersen at rpetersen@mcalesternews.com.

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