OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – Convicted murderer Tommy Ward has filed a brief in response to the Attorney General’s motion to keep him locked up in prison.
Ward’s case, and others, have been the focus of the Netflix documentary “The Innocent Man” in recent years, along with a John Grisham book with the same title.
The Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals is now considering Ward’s appeal.
Last year, the court assigned Oklahoma Trial Judge Paula Inge to the case.
Judge Inge looked at the evidence against Ward and ruled his murder conviction should be tossed out.
Ward thought he would be released from prison, until the Oklahoma Attorney General’s office stepped in to appeal Judge Inge’s ruling.
The Attorney General’s Office believes Ward should remain locked up for the murder; that the conviction against him was just.
According to the brief filed this week by Ward’s defense team, Judge Inge’s ruling should stand because the state withheld mountains of evidence at trial, and a fair trial would be impossible because the case is so old.
“One of the things the AG tries to do in the brief is say, the state ‘allegedly’ did not turn this information over,” said Ward’s attorney, Greg Swygert. “There is no doubt they did not turn over this information, and they are playing cute with the court by saying allegedly, which I find to be disingenuous.”
Ward’s murder case is very similar to the case of two other convicted murderers from Ada.
Ron Williamson and Dennis Fritz were exonerated by DNA evidence after detailed, false confessions.
“You look at the other cases that you know were wrongful convictions, and you compare them to the cases you are worried about wrongful convictions,” said Swygert. “The Attorney General here is just failing to do that miserably. They have the case. They have the other case that is such a mirror image of this case. It involves the same people, same time; a dream confession in the same county. They just can’t see that this case might fall in the same category.”
Karl Fontenot has a similar appeal making its way through federal court.
Both Ward and Fontenot claim their confessions were coerced and provably false.
Fontenot has already been released from prison.
The state has 20 days to file a response of ten pages or less.