OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – An Oklahoma who was set to be released from prison on Friday is going to remain behind bars even longer until a decision can be made about his freedom.
The week before Christmas, a judge overturned the murder conviction of Tommy Ward, one of the men at the center of John Grisham’s book “The Innocent Man.”
After 35-years in jail, Tommy’s family thought he would be home in time for Christmas, but Attorney General Mike Hunter filed a stay to keep Tommy behind bars until the state had time to appeal.
“He had already been signed out, had packed up all his stuff, and was just waiting to get out,” Tommy’s brother Melvin Ward said. “When they came back and told him he wasn’t. Whatever my emotions were, his had to have been double.”
Melvin says he was in the car on his way to pick his brother up when he found out about the appeal.
In the AG’s motion for a stay on Tommy’s release, the attorney general said the court shouldn’t reward Tommy for “waiting until 2017 to seek post-conviction review.”
In the 33-page opinion from the judge that overturned the conviction, the judge says it wasn’t until 2019 that the Ada Police Department turned over 300-pages of evidence showing “problems with the credibility of the state’s witnesses.”
“It makes you mad because they are educated men. They can read the facts, they know he’s innocent,” Melvin told KFOR. “They know that his rights have been violated, yet they still want to keep him in.”
News 4 did reach out to the Attorney General’s Office; we’re told they will let the filing speak for itself.
Melvin says all he can do right now is support his brother and look forward to the day he’s finally home.
“It’s a day, it shouldn’t have taken 35 years at all,” Melvin said. “It shouldn’t have taken that long.”
The stay on Tommy Ward’s release was in effect until Friday, January 8.
However, the temporary stay was extended until February 16.
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