The Innocent Man

The Innocent Man

Murder and Injustice in A Small Town

Book - 2006
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John Grisham's first work of nonfiction, an exploration of small town justice gone terribly awry, is his most extraordinary legal thriller yet.

In the major league draft of 1971, the first player chosen from the State of Oklahoma was Ron Williamson. When he signed with the Oakland A's, he said goodbye to his hometown of Ada and left to pursue his dreams of big league glory.

Six years later he was back, his dreams broken by a bad arm and bad habits--drinking, drugs, and women. He began to show signs of mental illness. Unable to keep a job, he moved in with his mother and slept twenty hours a day on her sofa.

In 1982, a 21-year-old cocktail waitress in Ada named Debra Sue Carter was raped and murdered, and for five years the police could not solve the crime. For reasons that were never clear, they suspected Ron Williamson and his friend Dennis Fritz. The two were finally arrested in 1987 and charged with capital murder.

With no physical evidence, the prosecution's case was built on junk science and the testimony of jailhouse snitches and convicts. Dennis Fritz was found guilty and given a life sentence. Ron Williamson was sent to death row.

If you believe that in America you are innocent until proven guilty, this book will shock you. If you believe in the death penalty, this book will disturb you. If you believe the criminal justice system is fair, this book will infuriate you.
Publisher: New York : Doubleday, [2006], ©2006
ISBN: 9780385517232
Branch Call Number: 345.766 Gr
Description: 360 pages, 8 unnumbered pages of plates : illustrations ; 25 cm


From Library Staff

In the major league draft of 1971, the first player chosen from the State of Oklahoma was Ron Williamson. When he signed with the Oakland A's, he said goodbye to his hometown of Ada and left to pursue his dreams of big league glory. Six years later he was back, his dreams broken by a bad arm and... Read More »

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Dec 08, 2018

On Netflix, December 14, 2018, as a part of true crime series documentaries! Great story!

Nov 24, 2017

Not a usual fan of true-life criminal stories. However, this book gave a glimpse into the game of 'who done it' by members of the legal community. This showed the horrific abuse of justice in order to find the individual(s) who murdered this young woman. Ron Williamson and others were the Victims of the Prosecutor's warped ego. In these instances, Guilty Before Proven Innocent! How can we be surprised by the Justice System's claims of being fair, even today, in light of the numerous murders by police of possible suspects.

Aug 14, 2017

Callous is an adjective, not a verb. This story is pretty tedious, but still worth reading if you aen't already familiar with the truth about our legal justice system which is anything but just in too many cases; there are far too many judges who were at the bottom of their class in law school which is why they become judges, and they are second-rate humans in addition to being bottom drawer lawyers; these corrupt scum who dare pass judgement on anyone since the worst criminals are better than they combined with second-rate district attorneys who were next to last in their law school classes and cannot get employ with successful law firms, who work with police who are worse than criminals in many, many instances, combined with the people who serve on juries--people who, if they are employed, have jobs that are unimportant giving them plenty of time to grab the pay and free lunches of jurymen. Doctors, lawyers, nurses do not serve on juries since they have important jobs and are excused. Juries are composed of the losers in society without enough intelligence to decide a person's fate.

Jul 31, 2017

With Grisham's first foray into non-fiction, not for the faint of heart. Which brought about litigation against him, and others, seeking to shine light on the darkness created by miscarriages of justice. A sleepy small town in Oklahoma, hometown of Country Music Star, Blake Shelton, NFL Stars, Mark Gastineau, Jeremy Shockey and Evangelist Oral Roberts. Which was rocked by two attacks on two young woman. I won't go into any more, because it would expose too much of the story, and ruin the book. It will change your life after reading this. Unless, you've allowed life to callous your heart.

Mar 23, 2017

This is a story of injustice which we all hear way too often. This book got really boring midway through. Good read, but I've read better true crime novels.

Oct 15, 2016

Beginning had a ton of redundancy which was hard to get through but then the rest of the book flowed a little more smoothly. Had to keep reminding myself it was a true story. It was a bit difficult to follow sometimes because there were several convictions, two different murders but the story of Ron Williamson was fascinating, sad, disturbing, troubling and riveting.

Sep 21, 2015

This true story is so well written! I have a great respect for the talents of John Grisham. Can't wait to read another one.

Jan 06, 2015

This book is a true story, I looked up the news

I am shock to read this story, because I always thought the justice system in the first world countries have evolved to be through and rigorous in their crime investigation and their judgement, this true story prove me wrong.

Aug 12, 2014

This was a salutary read. Sadly this is non fiction. What an indictment of life in Small Town America.

Feb 03, 2013

I have read several Grisham novels, and this is the first one I have had difficulty maintaining my focus and's not the story itself, it's the absence of dialogue and the style in which it was written. There are so many characters, numerous facts and details and sudden switches to different characters and scenarios. I didn't realize this was a non-fiction book, let alone that it is Grisham's first attempt at non-fiction. That explains the difference in writing style. I sympathize with the main character, Ron Williamson, who is diagnosed with manic depression. Although talented and intelligent, his drug and alcohol use becomes out of control, making his manic and depressive mood swings even worse. His lack of insight into his illness is so typical with people who are diagnosed with this illness. Sadly, since he does not continue to take his medication he has one struggle after another which results in very poor quality of life. Too bad the police seem to lack any insight and understanding of mental illness. They are bent on finding a scapegoat for the rape/murder in their town, they make the evidence (lack of) point to an innocent man. Just another example of how indigent, mentally ill people fall through the cracks in our society, and end up being used and abused, pawns in the games played by witless police officers. Not one of his best books, but now that I am aware that it is NF, I can understand the non typical Grisham style. The story is so sad, but not surprising to me. It makes the reader take a good hard look at the danger of the death penalty, or at least it should.

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