Because Ideas Matter...
The faculty and staff of Butler University's College of Liberal
Arts and Sciences presents
The Innocent Man
by John Grisham, Dell 2007
Reviewed by Judi Morrel
Known for his fiction, John Grisham has
written a compelling true crime tale that tells the harrowing story
of Ron Williamson, a one-time big league baseball prospect from
Oklahoma, who was wrongly convicted of murder and sentenced to
Ron, who idolized fellow Oklahoman Mickey Mantle, had his
professional baseball dreams destroyed by a combination of
drinking, drugs, and his own mental illness. His serious trouble
with the law began, however, when he returned to Ada, his hometown.
A cocktail waitress, Debra Carter, was horrifically murdered, and
for several years the police investigation floundered. Murder was a
rare event in Ada, and the police and prosecutor were under
enormous pressure to find the killer.
Five years later in 1987 with literally no evidence, Ron and one
of his drinking buddies, Dennis Fritz, were charged with the
murder. Despite their adamant protestations of innocence, they were
convicted in a mockery of a trial populated with lying witnesses,
jailhouse snitches, arrogant prosecutors, inadequate defense
attorneys, and suspiciously convenient "expert" witnesses.
Grisham's meticulously researched saga details Ron's
excruciating stay on death row as he sank deeper into mental
illness despite repeated pleas for help from him and from his
family and appeal attorneys. Although Ron was exonerated in 1999 by
DNA testing, his life was shattered while the real killer went
free. If you believe in the principle of justice under the law, The
Innocent Man is a cautionary tale that will shake your faith.
- Judi Morrel is associate professor of mathematics and
associate dean of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences at