One of the main reasons I am so passionate about the legal field is that so many innocent people are wrongfully convicted. It is terrible to think that an innocent person has lost so many years of their life because of someone’s mistakes. No amount of money will ever give them those years back.
Sadly, it is inevitable that some people will be convicted as a criminal, even if there is no valid evidence against them or a reliable witness. For example, a new documentary came out on Netflix called The Innocent Man. The two stories follow four convicted murderers and how they were charged with the murder of two women on different occasions. This document fully portrays how corrupt and unscrupulous America’s Criminal Justice System can be. When the police officers are stressed out, and the public is demanding justice for the victims, police are under a lot of pressure to get the right person and never do something like this again.
Often, the police will jump the gun and force two pieces of the puzzle to fit together, even when they refuse to fit. In this wrongful conviction documentary, these pieces are the four men and the crimes they did not commit. Through false testimonies and confessions, the police painted a false narrative. For so long, America’s Criminal Justice System has failed these four men.
Rape and Murder
In the rape and murder case of Debra Sue “Debbie” Carter in 1982, the two men Ron Williamson and Dennis Fritz were convicted of these crimes. Williamson spent 11 years on death row, and Fritz was sentenced to life in prison. Just five days before Williamson was sentenced to death, he and Fritz were exonerated in 1999. Because of forensics and the preservation of DNA evidence, this evidence was tested, and the men were found innocent. There was no evidence nor a reliable witness that could incriminate these two men. Sadly, Williamson died from cirrhosis five years after his release from prison. Fritz reunited with his daughter, but unfortunately, he was in a serious car accident that caused a traumatic brain injury. He now has Alzheimer’s and lives with his daughter.
The other side of the story follows Tommy Ward and Carl Fontenot in the murder case of Denice Harraway in1984. That is an entirely different story on its own, with the men spending over 30 years in prison. Fontenot was released in 2019, and Ward remains in prison despite DNA evidence proving his innocence.
America’s Criminal Justice System
America’s Criminal Justice System has failed these four men. They lost so many years of their lives, and they will never get them back. They lost valuable time with their families, friends, and the opportunities to live their lives as free men. In my lifetime, I want to see a change. I have become quite invested in The Innocence Project’s work and admire what others are doing for this cause.
Innocent people should not have to pay the price for someone else’s crimes, and neither should you. If you find yourself being charged with a crime you did not commit, contact Indiana wrongful conviction attorney Mark Nicholson. He is an experienced attorney and an aggressive advocate for his clients. He will make sure your rights are defended and your interests represented. Contact the Law Office of Mark Nicholson now at 317-667-0718. He will fight for you!
By: Molly Waldrop
Legal Assistant at the Law Office of Mark Nicholson