Oklahoma man at center of ‘The Innocent Man’ to be released from prison

ADA, Okla. (KFOR) –A man who was convicted in a controversial murder case will soon be a free man.

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, but both were ultimately cleared by DNA evidence years later. The series revealed mistakes and bad decisions made by the investigators and prosecutors in that case.

It also detailed 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.

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.

Earlier this year, a court order from the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Oklahoma stated that Karl Fontenot should be either released from prison or granted a new trial.

Fontenot’s lawyer challenged his murder conviction saying that newly discovered evidence proves that his client is innocent, his rights were violated when the district attorney’s office withheld evidence, police interfered with his attorney-client privilege and that police knowingly presented false testimony during his trial.

Karl Fontenot

Following over a hundred pages of evidence detailed in the court order, the court ultimately decided that the evidence in the case showed Fontenot was not involved in Haraway’s murder.

“The Court finds no rational juror who was able to set aside the tragedy of Mrs. Haraway’s death could find beyond a reasonable doubt that Mr. Fontenot should be convicted based solely on his unsubstantiated confession.”

Now, Fontenot will soon become a free man.

Fontenot is scheduled to be released from prison on Thursday, Dec. 19.

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