the-innocent-man

Ron Williamson was going to be Ada’s new baseball legend, was going to be among the greatest Yankees. Or, at least, that’s what everyone thought was going to happen for Ronnie.

But, after some struggles in the minor leagues, a shoulder injury that just wouldn’t heal and some questionable vices, Ronnie’s dreams of playing in the Major Leagues were dashed. He struggled with alcohol, drugs, loose women, and his mental health for a very long time. He was a loud drunk, and a mean one, that was well known around his home town of Ada, Oklahoma.

His reputation was what brought him to the attention of the Ada police when the murder of Debbie Carter happened in 1982 and he spend 12 years on death row because of bad police work, a bias prosecutor, and a jury of his peers who had him convicted because of a dream confession.

Ron, along with Dennis Fritz who was given life in prison when convicted, were charged after five years of shoddy police work and little investigation into other suspects. During the appeals of Ron’s trial, both Ron and Dennis were exonerated of the charges because of DNA testing that proved that the murder and rape was done by Glen Gore. (Gore was used by Peterson to place Ron at the scene where people saw Debbie last before her murder, and was never looked into as a suspect even though he had a violent past against women.)

Later, Ron and Dennis won a settlement of wrongful conviction in 2003 from the City of Ada, plus a number of other defendants who played a part in their sentences.

In 2004, Ron was diagnosed with cirrhosis in his liver and died in December of the same year.

As a huge fan of John Grisham, I was quite interested to read this book. It wasn’t until a couple of chapters in that I realized that this book was nonfiction, and based on a real wrongful conviction case. But, it was still written amazingly. He presented the story in an unbiased fashion, though he spread light on the injustice of the entire suit and the harm it had caused Ron and Dennis.

In true Grisham fashion, he put so much detail into the book that I couldn’t possibly touch on it all in my review. But, I strongly suggest that any bookworm who’s interested in these types of books to read this one. It’s eye opening, honest, and really makes us wonder about the men and women put to death in the United States who may have been innocent.

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