Jennifer's Reviews > The Innocent Man: Murder and Injustice in a Small Town

The Innocent Man by John Grisham
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Aug 04, 14

bookshelves: non-fiction
Read in March, 2010

I think one of the things I missed most about this book was the John Grisham charm. He still added his touches to the story, but you could tell it wasn't his story.

Still, I am shocked and saddened at what happened in this story. Not only the inhumane treatment that Ron suffered at the hands of the guards at McAlester, but just in general that he and Dennis sat in jail and on Death Row for almost twelve years before they were proven innocent. I was outraged everytime I saw Bill Peterson's name, knowing that he surely had screwed something else up. I can't believe he's still the District Attorney in Ada! I was shocked everytime Judge Jones made yet another bad ruling. From not pointing out that maybe Ron wasn't mentally competent, all the way to the ridiculous ruling he made on the Brady issue. What a disaster! And then for two Appeals Courts to uphold the death sentence was incredible. What pleadings where they reading? Obviously not the same ones as Judge Seay's office, since they saw the incredible injustice.

I am glad that Greg Wilhoit got back on his feet, as did Dennis Fritz. It saddened me to hear that Ron never really found his way after baseball. And I am still deeply disturbed by the fact that Tommy Ward and Karl Fontenot are still serving life prisons as I sit here typing this. The entire story, I was actually more caught up in their ordeal and though John Grisham said early on that when Tommy went into the police station for his lie detector test, it was the last time he'd be a free man, I still read the entire story thinking that must have been a typo. Surely he and Karl would be freed as well. :( That whole town appears to be a disaster. I know it's not just Ada, it's just that this time they had the spotlight on them. Bill Peterson surely isn't helping matters. His name alone makes me angry.

I still can't believe how many people still believed that Ron and Dennis were guilty even when DNA evidence proved their innocence. Some people are so set in their ways that they can't look at the obvious. I hope in today's time, with DNA being used so often, that they now know how definite the proof is, and that they know finally that these two are innocent. Of course Peterson ranting and raving about how they were still suspects surely make it harder for the townspeople to believe that they were innocent. I look at that photo of Ron and Dennis when they were set free, and indeed you can see the hatred and the anger in the faces of the people in the courtroom. It's very sad.

Overall, a good book, one worth reading, though I thought it was a little slow moving. Too much time spent on Ron and Dennis' lives growing up and not enough time spent on the trial. And here's hoping one day by some miracle, Ward and Fontenot are released.
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