Sunday, October 21, 2007

Dennis Fritz and Iowans Against The Death Penalty Events and Book Signings

Journey Toward Justice author, Dennis Fritz, who served 12 years in prison for a crime he didn’t commit, will share his experiences and discuss his wrongful conviction, incarceration and eventual exoneration through The Innocence Project at St. Catherine of Siena, the Catholic Parish on the Campus of Drake University. Oct. 28th. Dennis Fritz is the other innocent man in John Grisham's book, The Innocent Man.
Dennis Fritz will also keynote the Iowans Against the Death Penalty 45th Anniversary Award Dinner on Saturday evening, October 27 at the Catholic Pastoral Center.
The event is being presented by the Iowans Against The Death Penalty.

About the book Journey Toward Justice (Description from Seven Locks Press)

A chilling illustration of how one prosecutor’s reckless pursuit of justice shattered a man’s life, Journey Toward Justice, is a testimony to the triumph of the human spirit and how one man’s extraordinary faith and resolve, along with the wonder of technology, help transform his life yet again.

“The story of the unwarranted prosecution and wrongful conviction of Dennis Fritz is compelling and fascinating,” said author John Grisham. “After serving eleven years for a murder he did not commit, Dennis was exonerated and had the strength and courage to put his life back together.”

About the Author

Prior to his conviction, Dennis Fritz taught middle school science and coached football, basketball, and track. Since his release, Fritz is a spokesman for the Innocence Project at fundraising events and works first hand with inmates. He serves as a board member of the Coalition to Demolish the Death Penalty

"Our law students work on cases just like Dennis’ and can look to his story for inspiration. Each new clinic student is required to read about Dennis’ case and the how it illustrates the flaws in our justice system. His story and courage has helped us in our own success in freeing four wrongfully convicted men in the past six years."said California Innocence Project Director and CWSL Professor Justin Brooks.
"There have been 181 post-conviction DNA exonerations in America. The exonerated and their families are the heart and soul of this movement. There is no more decent and dignified a man, nor a more gentle soul, than Dennis Fritz", said Innocence Project Attorney Barry C. Scheck. "He has had the fortitude to tell his whole story. As always, I am in awe of his courage and humbled by his efforts."

In 1987, Fritz was arrested, with his friend Ron Williamson, and charged with the rape and murder of Debbie Sue Carter in Ada, Okla. The case displayed all the warning signs of a wrongful conviction. An overzealous prosecutor relied on flimsy circumstantial data to create the illusion of guilt. Distorted statements, questionable testimony of a jailhouse informant, faulty hair evidence, dream confessions, and other bizarre clues completed the prosecution’s weak case. Though innocent, the vote of a single juror saved Fritz from the death penalty and he was sentenced to life behind bars.
After 10 years, he discovered The Innocence Project, a non-profit legal organization in New York, devoted to exonerate the wrongfully convicted through post-conviction DNA testing. With the aid of famed attorney Barry Scheck – and irrefutable DNA evidence – Fritz and Williamson were exonerated (1999) after 12 years of wrongful imprisonment and the identity of the real killer was discovered. The real killer, who turned out to be one of the prosecution’s key witnesses, was arrested, convicted, and finally brought to justice.

At the 45th Anniversary Award Dinner, University of Iowa law professor David Baldus will be honored for his advocacy work in maintaining Iowa’s position as a non-death penalty state by Iowans Against the Death Penalty when he receives the organization’s Gov. Harold E. Hughes Award on Oct. 27th.

Baldus is considered one of the nation’s leading death penalty scholars. When Iowa has considered legislation designed to reinstate capital punishment in recent years, he has conducted research on the negative effects those laws would bring to the state. He has also testified in the legislature on the issue and has developed amendments and legal critiques of the proposed death penalty bills that aided their legislative opponents.
Along with Baldus, Iowans Against the Death Penalty will honor former Gov. Tom Vilsack, Des Moines attorney James Benzoni and the late Sen. John Ely.
The award ceremony will be held at 6:30 p.m. at the Catholic Pastoral Center at 601 Grand Ave. in Des Moines. For more information on the banquet, contact 515-963-2342.
About IADP
Iowans Against the Death Penalty (IADP) is an independent, non-partisan, non-sectarian, grass-roots organization committed to preventing reinstatement of the death penalty in Iowa through public education and political activism. Iowa law does not provide for punishment of any crime by death.

Dennis Fritz other events in Iowa;
Oct.25 Dennis Fritz will be on WHO-radio 1040AM Steve "Deace in the Afternoon" 4-6 p.m.Talk Show
Oct. 26 Speaking at University of Iowa Law School call school for more information.
Oct. 26th Friday Book signing at Barnes and Noble Coral Ridge Mall 7 p.m. Coralville, IA
Oct. 27th Saturday Book signing at Barnes and Noble 2 p.m. call Barnes and Noble for more information
Oct. 29 Monday Speaking at Drake Law School

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