'Passion of Christ' prompted confession



Jun 3, 2003
'Passion of Christ' prompted confession,
but not guilty plea
Copyright 2004 Houston Chronicle

Despite turning himself in after seeing The Passion of the*Christ, the man*who*confessed to*strangling a*Fort Bend County woman and disguising it as a suicide pleaded not guilty to murder today.

The plea by Dan Leach II in the Jan. 15 death*took the victim's family by surprise.

Dan Wilson, the father of 19-year-old Ashley Nicole Wilson, said he'd been expecting a guilty plea.

"We were most disappointed this morning," he said. "He has admitted his guilt. That's what's upsetting to us as a* family."

Leach's lawyer, Raph Gonzalez, said*his 21-year-old client*entered a not*guilty plea*to avoid waiving certain rights "at this time."* Leach is very sorry for what happened, his attorney said.*

Two months after*the young woman's death was ruled a suicide by hanging , Leach walked into the Fort Bend County's Sheriff's Department and told investigators he'd killed Wilson because she was pregnant with his child and he did not want to have anything to do with her or the baby.

Prosecutors had considered charging him with capital murder rather than murder under a new law defining a fetus as a person, which would mean there were two victims. Although Wilson's parents*showed investigators medical records confirming*she was pregnant,*an autopsy showed no evidence she was carrying a child. Without a*capital murder conviction,*the maximum Leach could get is life in prison.*

Today Leach's lawyer*said his client was*"relieved" to learn Wilson wasn't pregnant.

Investigators said Leach told police one of the reasons he came forward was that he was moved emotionally after seeing the Mel Gibson movie The Passion of the Christ, which depicts the last hours of the life of Jesus Christ.

In an*interview with*the news radio station*740 KTRH, Leach explained why he stepped forward when he could have remained a free man.

"Being guilty. I knew that I couldn't repent to God for it and be forgiven spritually without going to the law," he said.*

"And I believe that it was my responsibility -- in order to be saved on the day of judgement -- to come forward and make myself subject to it.".

An August trial date has been set.


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