The Innocent Man Review
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For the first time, John Grisham has written a law novel based on an actual ordeal. In this very gripping story, Grisham begins by introducing the reader to several characters of the town of Ada, Oklahoma. Ron Williamson is a baseball hero, the youngest of three children of a very religious family. Heís drafted in the minor leagues, where he shows small promise. Ron marries Adaís homecoming queen, and life seems to be off to a great start; but how quickly things can change. Ron injures his shoulder and is let go from the team. Obsessed with remaining the hero of his small town, he does everything possible to rehabilitate and get back in the game. Ron and his wife have marital troubles, and he finds himself divorced, jobless, and dealing with psychological problems. Diagnosed with bipolar disorder and schizophrenia, heís back in Ada living with his mother and has become an utter failure.

  
 
Ronís problems continue. The Ada police investigate the rape and murder of Debra Carter. They collect little evidence and then start their manhunt for the killer or killers. Because of Ronís odd behavior due to his mental problems, he becomes a prime suspect. Ron denies involvement from the start, as does his accused accomplice, Dennis Fritz. Both men are arrested and held until trial, approximately one year later.

Grisham fills the book with stories of how Ron and Dennis were treated in jail, as well as their lengthy trials and various appeals. After Ron and Dennis are convicted of the rape and murder of Debra Carter, in spite of sound evidence, we get a good understanding of the mistakes made by the police, lawyers, and family members of the accused as the case progresses. After many years in prison, and Ronís time on death row, both men are released due to DNA evidence. Neither Ron nor Dennis receives any apology or monetary reimbursement for the time, money, and years they lost due to the blunders of the prosecutors, attorneys, and police.

In the end, we see how Ron and Dennis faired after prison. The Innocent Man is a very intriguing look into an actual case that had so many obvious flaws. The book points out the many places where the system should have done things differently to keep these innocent men from paying the price for a crime they did not commit. This is a well written book, and once you start reading it, you Ďll find yourself captured in the details that Grisham so skillfully delivers. Once again, Grisham has done a smashing job in a unique non-fiction style.


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