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Senate approves restitution in wrongful conviction

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) -- The state Senate has approved restitution for a man whose murder charge was dropped after he spent a decade in prison.

Lawmakers on Monday authorized $305,900 for Mario Rocha, along with payments in more than 300 other state claims. The 27-3 vote for SB1031 sends it to the Assembly.

Democratic Sen. Kevin de Leon, of Los Angeles, says Rocha was wrongfully convicted in 1997 of participating in a gang shooting at age 16 “even though he was never in a gang.”

Rocha successfully appealed his conviction. After it was upheld, the Los Angeles County district attorney's office declined to retry him.

The state victim compensation board approved his claim in December.

Rocha was the focus of a documentary, “Mario's Story,” highlighting his efforts to graduate from George Washington University.

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