KYW NEWS 1060 (05/04/04)
Confessed Murderer Pleads Innocent in Texas
A man who police said made his girlfriend's slaying appear to be a suicide, but then confessed after seeing "The Passion of the Christ," pleaded innocent to murder Monday.
Dan Leach II entered the plea to avoid waiving his rights, his lawyer, Ralph Gonzalez, said. The plea surprised the family of 19-year-old Ashley Nicole Wilson, who was found dead January 15th in her apartment near Richmond, southwest of Houston.
"He has admitted his guilt," said the woman's father, Dan Wilson. "That's what's upsetting to us as a family."
Police said Leach came to them in early March and confessed to killing Wilson and making it look like a suicide. Coroners originally ruled Wilson's hanging a suicide.
Authorities said Leach told them he was inspired to come forward after watching Mel Gibson's cinematic depiction of the last hours of Jesus.
Leach faces up to life in prison if convicted. A trial is set for August.