ADA, Okla. – After testifying in federal court about missing evidence in relation to a murder case, an Oklahoma police chief announced his retirement.
The 1984 murder case of Denice Haraway has been in the spotlight recently after it became the focus of the Netflix docu-series “The Innocent Man.”
The series is based on the John Grisham book, The Innocent Man. It documents the murder cases of two Ada women: Debbie Carter, raped and killed in 1982, and Denice Haraway, who went missing and was found murdered two years later.
Two men were convicted in Carter's case. One was sentenced to life in prison, and the other was given the death sentence. However both were cleared by DNA evidence years later.
The series reveals mistakes and bad decisions made by the investigators and prosecutors in that case.
It finds similar issues in the Haraway case, suggesting that the two men who are still in prison for her murder, Tommy Ward and Karl Fontenot, perhaps should not have been charged and convicted. The problems lie especially with discrepancies between the two men's confessions and details of her murder.
Tommy Ward and Karl Fontenot have been in prison for more than 30 years for a crime they say they didn't commit.
In 2017, Fontenot's legal team asked for any new evidence in the case, but the city and police department said there was no such evidence.
Ward's legal team sent a similar request one year later, and was given three boxes of new evidence.
Lisa Bratcher, with the City of Ada, said the police department had been in a two year process of cataloging evidence after moving buildings.
"So the evidence found at the end of 2018 had been cataloged in and they were able to produce three boxes," Bratcher told KXII.
The police department said it did not know how the evidence was overlooked.
Ada Police Chief Mike Miller was subpoenaed to testify Tuesday in U.S District Court for the Eastern District of Oklahoma regarding the boxes, which contained hundreds of pages of investigative reports.
According to Ada News, Miller testified that he only knew that the boxes may have been stored in an old jail cell, and they turned when they were logged into the evidence database in 2017.
After testifying in federal court about the evidence, Miller announced his retirement. He has been the police chief since 1996.
Ada Public Works Director Carl Allen will take over as the interim police chief.