Crime and 'Passion': Man Describes Killing

ByABC News via logo

Aug. 19, 2004 -- The man who said The Passion of the Christ moved him to admit to killing his girlfriend told detectives on a videotaped confession that he killed the 19-year-old to cover up getting her pregnant.

"I was not willing to share that child with her and to let others know that I had done things I had with her," said Dan Leach, 21, on the newly released video. "I was like a robot, just following a program. There wasn't any malicious intent. It was cold and calculated, and it wasn't what I wanted to do. It was just what I ended up doing."

Police released the videotape this week after a Richmond, Texas, jury sentenced Leach to 75 years in prison Friday for killing Ashley Wilson, who was 19 years old. Leach's attorney plans to appeal the sentence.

‘Weighing … on My Mind’

On the videotape, Leach admitted to strangling Wilson Jan. 15, months before seeing the Mel Gibson film, The Passion of the Christ.

"It was weighing so much on my mind I had to come forward," Leach said.

Leach described tricking Wilson into writing a list of her troubles that police would believe to be a suicide note.

"She agreed to go ahead and write some things," Leach said. "I wanted some sort of physical evidence on paper."

After strangling her with a cord, Leach said he then covered the murder up to make it look like a suicide. Leach says he wiped his fingerprints from the scene and also left a compact disc playing a song by The Who, "Behind Blue Eyes," to set an eerie mood for when Wilson's body was found.

Despite earlier beliefs, the autopsy conducted by the Harris County Medical Examiner's Office concluded Wilson was not pregnant with Leach's child.

Investigators ruled the death a suicide until Leach came forward two months later, not only because of the movie, but also, he said, out of respect for Wilson's parents.

"Knowing that I took their daughter's life, I can't continue to let them think that they had done something wrong and failed her to where she would turn to suicide," Wilson said.

Nevertheless, Wilson's mother, Renee Coulter, expressed ongoing anger at Leach and dismay over his plans to appeal his sentence.

"It enrages me," Coulter said. "He has had his day in court. He wanted to goall the way to trial. And he went. So as far as I'm concerned, it's a donedeal."

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