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Mario's Story
Mario's Story
Actor: Mario Rocha
Director: Jeff Werner & Susan Koch
Genres: Documentary
NR     2007     1hr 38min

In 1998 Mario Rocha, a young Latino, was convicted of murder on the basis of one questionable identification and not a shred of physical evidence. He was 16 years old at the time of his arrest, yet tried as an adult and se...  more »


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Movie Details

Actor: Mario Rocha
Director: Jeff Werner & Susan Koch
Genres: Documentary
Sub-Genres: Biography
Studio: Westlake Entertainmnt Inc
Format: DVD - Color,Widescreen
DVD Release Date: 12/11/2007
Release Year: 2007
Run Time: 1hr 38min
Screens: Color,Widescreen
Number of Discs: 1
SwapaDVD Credits: 1
Total Copies: 0
Members Wishing: 2
MPAA Rating: NR (Not Rated)
Languages: English

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Movie Reviews

Strong documentary with a powerful message
Matthew G. Sherwin | last seen screaming at Amazon customer service | 05/17/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)

"Mario's Story is the heartbreaking story of a teen wrongfully incarcerated and mistreated by an inept legal system. The film documents the night of the party Mario attended when someone was shot and killed; and we quickly learn that Mario was convicted based on one single person's eye witness account that was shaky at best. Mario's new lawyers allege that Mario's original defense attorney did not do a good job of defending Mario in court. In addition, the lack of witnesses to help exonerate Mario stems from the threats from gangs in Mario's neighborhood and the fear of reprisal if anyone told the truth about who did kill the young man who died at that party.

The documentary introduces us a woman who is practically a saint; Sister Janet Harris who was a religious leader at juvenile hall where Mario spent two years awaiting his murder trial. She instinctively knew Mario was wrongfully accused but it's amazing to watch this documentary as we find out just how long it takes to get Mario released from prison. The system is intensely bent on defending itself and the two brief interviews we get from the prosecution attorney at Mario's original trial really only shows us the lawyer's insistence that Mario "messed up" by not telling enough information to exonerate himself during the preparations for the trial.

Just as others have noted, the documentary effectively shows us the great diversity of people who come to Mario's defense as he waits remarkably patiently behind bars for a crime he never committed. We get stunning interviews with members of Mario's family; we see lawyers at a prestigious law firm take Mario's case on as a pro bono case and Mario's huge family never stops believing that he will return to them someday. The interviews and the footage of the family interacting with each other is extremely moving and it touched me greatly.

As you probably expected, Mario is released from prison--but I was somewhat disappointed still with how he was treated even at the ending of this documentary. He was released on bail (!!!) in 2006 and the current District Attorney is planning to retry Mario for the exact same crime despite the overwhelming evidence that Mario clearly did not commit this crime.

The DVD does not come with extras except for the theatrical trailer for the movie. However, this does not bother me; the movie is so well done that it easily stands quite strongly on its own.

I would recommend Mario's Story to law students and people who want to understand the legal "system" for whatever personal reasons they may have. It's a tough film to watch but it does hold out hope for anyone who has been wrongfully convicted and treated like an animal by the criminal "justice system."
Loves To Read | Twin Cities, MN USA | 03/08/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)

"The film begins with a 911 call to report the shooting of a young male at a party. He dies at the scene. We learn that 16 year old Mario Rocha has been arrested in connection with the murder. We quickly learn that Sister Janet Harris, a Catholic nun is convinced that the trial that convicted Mario of the murder and gave him two life sentences was wrongful and that Mario is very innocent. Have you ever felt you may have been a raw deal in a particular situation-maybe trying out for a sports team or a part in a play or whatever. How would you feel at 18, having spent two years in jail waiting for your trial and now given two life sentences for a crime that you didn't commit? Mario may be one of the most amazing young men you will ever meet. His spirit and his will seem almost unbreakable despite the odds being 99 to 1 that he could ever get a new trial. Habeas Corpus appeals are almost never overturned despite what seems to be clear evidence that he was underrepresented and misrepresented by his legal counsel. This is story of an incredible young man who learns he has the gift of poetry in prison and a law firm that did pro bono work believing in his innocence and a nun and a family that wouldn't give up. This should be watched by everyone entering the legal profession as well as everyone associated with the criminal justice system. How many Marios are in prison? We will probably never know but one is too many. You will be heart broken by the failures of our legal system and inspired by the spirit of this young man and undying commitment of his family, law firm and one very determined nun. [...]"
Completely Scratched DVD
Ms. Reading | Boston, MA | 05/06/2009
(1 out of 5 stars)

"The DVD (that was described as "new") was completely scratched and unwatchable. I want a refund or a new DVD. I'm incredibly frustrated."