News 04.15.08

Nine years ago today: Fritz and Williamson exonerated in Oklahoma

Nine years ago today, Dennis Fritz and Ron Williamson were released from state custody in Oklahoma after spending 11 years behind bars for a murder they didn’t commit.

Williamson became a suspect in the 1982 murder of an Ada, Oklahoma, woman after a witness named Glenn Gore told police he saw Williamson on the night of the crime at the bar where the victim worked. Forensic testing was conducted on the hairs found at the crime scene, and lab analysts testified that the hairs could have come from Fritz and Williamson. Jailhouse snitches testified that the men confessed their guilt in the crime. In 1988, six years after the murder, Dennis Fritz was sentenced to life in prison and Ron Williamson was sent to death row.   

With the help of the Innocence Project, the DNA found at the crime scene was finally tested and excluded both Fritz and Williamson of the crime. The DNA also helped identify the true perpetrator, Glenn Gore, who had been of the state’s witnesses at trial. Fritz and Williamson were finally released and exonerated in April 1999.  

John Grisham details Fritz and Williamson’s wrongful convictions in his first non-fiction book, “The Innocent Man: Murder and Injustice in a Small Town.”

Buy a copy of the book at Amazon.com

and a portion of your purchase price will support the Innocence Project.

Ron Williamson’s mental and physical health worsened during his 11 years on death row. Sadly, he passed away in 2004, just five years after his release.

Dennis Fritz today travels around the world telling the story about his case and reforms that can prevent wrongful convictions. He is the author of “Journey Toward Justice.”

Buy the book from Amazon.com and a portion of your purchase price will benefit the Innocence Project

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Christy Sheppard, whose cousin was the victim in this case, also speaks frequently about issues surrounding wrongful convictions.

Read more about Sheppard’s work here

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Read more about Fritz’ case here

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Read more about Williamson’s case here

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Other Exonerations this week:



Thursday:

Victor Larue Thomas

, Texas (Served 15 years, Exonerated 4/17/02)

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