Saturday, December 26, 2009

Quick 5 questions for Dennis Fritz

1- Give us some background about what happened to you. I was living Ada, Okla., raising my young daughter. I was a science teacher. A murder happened in Ada. Debbie Sue Carter was viciously murdered and raped. A year before, I met an individual named Ronnie Williamson. Ronnie had bipolar disorder and the police didn’t like him. He would do bizarre things. They(police) zeroed in on Ronnie and me. They had no evidence yet they wanted to solve this crime.

2- So how you did get out of prison? I started working on my own case and learned criminal law inside and out. I contacted the Innocence Project for help. I was released on the strength of DNA evidence testing. When we were released, the actual murderer of the crime escaped from minimum security prison in Oklahoma. He was serving time for another crime. They had tested his DNA against the crime scene DNA and they matched. Anyway, he escaped from prison after knowing we had been exonerated. They caught him.

3- What inspired you to write “Journey Toward Justice?” Five years after we were released, I read an Associated Press article that said John Grisham was going to write a book about our case. I told myself that if John Grisham can write a book about my case, well so can I. I collaborated with John for about nine months on his writing of “The Innocent Man.” John gave me his one and only endorsement on my book.

4 -When you read or hear criminal accusations against suspects in the news media, do you believe them or are you deeply skeptical? I’m very deeply skeptical. There could possibly 10 to 20 percent people who are actually innocent who have been found guilty. After 10 years and they’re still screaming their innocence, then they’re innocent. I can tell by being around people who have been incarcerated for something they didn’t do by how they act. They lose that con job after a year or two in prison.

5- In ways did the ghosts of your ordeal haunt you as you penned the book? Five years had passed from the time I was released to when I started writing. I had feelings of alienation and paranoia. When I would hear a car door slam outside, I’d start thinking in my mind the fear of seeing the cops in my driveway. If I saw a police car drive by my house, I would kind of freeze. I tried to talk myself out in so many ways of not writing the book, but I had a good and strict editor.
By Michael Glover -
The Examiner Independence, MO —

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