Saturday, 20 January 2007

Dennis Fritz


Year of incident: 1982
Conviction: First degree murder
Sentence: Life
Year of conviction: 1988
Year of exoneration: 1999
Sentence served: 11 years

In 1982, high school science teacher Dennis Fritz was living near Ada, Okla., raising his 8-year-old daughter, Elizabeth, whose mother had been murdered by a deranged neighbor when Elizabeth was 2 years old. Fritz frequently visited Ada, where he befriended Ron Williamson, a tall, lanky local who suffered from mental disorders. The two would often play guitar together and then go out to local bars. One of the places they frequented was the Coachlight Club.

On Dec. 8, 1982, Debra Sue Carter, a waitress at the Coachlight Club, was found raped and murdered in her apartment. A witness, Glen Gore, came forward to say that Williamson was at the bar bothering Carter on the night of the murder. Fritz, due to his association with Williamson, also came under suspicion. Fritz and Williamson were both questioned by police and then released due to lack of evidence.

A few years later, with no one yet charged for the murder, a jailhouse snitch came forward and claimed that Williamson, while in jail on unrelated charges, had confessed to killing Carter. On May 8, 1987, Fritz was arrested along with Williamson for the rape and murder. The police claimed that hair evidence from the crime scene that had been microscopically analyzed matched both men. While Fritz was awaiting trial in county jail, other snitches claimed that they heard Fritz confess to the crime. The snitches' testimony, along with the hair samples, were the prosecution's main evidence during trial.

On April 12, 1988, Fritz was found guilty and sentenced to life in prison. Williamson, as the primary suspect, was sent to Death Row.

After several appeals of his conviction were denied, Fritz contacted The Innocence Project. At the time, Williamson's public defenders had successfully gained permission to perform DNA tests on the physical evidence, and Fritz had to file an injunction so that the evidence would not be totally consumed in the tests on Williamson's behalf. In 1999, DNA testing revealed that neither Fritz nor Williamson had raped the victim. Further testing also proved that none of the hairs belonged to either of the men.

Fritz and Williamson were exonerated and released on April 15, 1999. The profile obtained from the semen evidence matched Glen Gore, the state's main witness at trial. Gore had been serving three 40-year sentences for unrelated charges of first-degree burglary, kidnapping, and shooting with intent to injure. In April 2002, Gore was charged with the rape and murder of Debra Sue Carter; he pled not guilty. His trial is set to begin on May 12, 2003.

Fritz and Williamson subsequently filed a civil suit against several parties involved in their arrest and imprisonment and settled for an undisclosed sum of money.

Shortly after the crime, Fritz's daughter went to live with her grandparents in southwestern Oklahoma. She was 13 years old when she was first told of her father's arrest and sentence of life imprisonment. Fritz refused to allow her to see him in prison, though they did stay in touch by writing each other and talking on the phone. It wasn't until his release, nearly 12 years later, that Elizabeth finally saw her father.

"The harm that it did to me was that it took 12 years out of my life, away from my family members," Fritz told FRONTLINE. "I was cheated of watching my daughter grow and flower into a woman. No amount of money on the face of the earth could even begin to make an amend for what happened."

Elizabeth, who is now 29, lives in Oklahoma City. Fritz and his mother live in Kansas City, where they are trying to enjoy some of the comforts the settlement money can provide.

2 comments:

Barbara Blog's said...

Please read Dennis Fritz's book Here is something I wrote about it - Who And Where Is Dennis Fritz, You say after reading John Grisham's Wonderful Book "The Innocent man", Grisham's First non-fiction book. The Other Innocent Man hardly mentioned in "The Innocent Man" has his own compelling and fascinating story to tell in "Journey Toward Justice". John Grisham endorsed Dennis Fritz's Book on the Front Cover. Dennis Fritz wrote his Book Published by Seven Locks Press, to bring awareness about False Convictions, and The Death Penalty. "Journey Toward Justice" is a testimony to the Triumph of the Human Spirit and is a Stunning and Shocking Memoir. Dennis Fritz was wrongfully convicted of murder after a swift trail. The only thing that saved him from the Death Penalty was a lone vote from a juror. "The Innocent Man" by John Grisham is all about Ronnie Williamson, Dennis Fritz's was his co-defendant. Ronnie Williamson was sentenced to the Death Penalty. Both were exonerated after spending 12 years in prison. Both Freed by a simple DNA test, The real killer was one of the Prosecution's Key Witness. John Grisham's "The Innocent Man" tells half the story. Dennis Fritz's Story needs to be heard. Read about how he wrote hundreds of letters and appellate briefs in his own defense and immersed himself in an intense study of law. He was a school teacher and a ordinary man from Ada Oklahoma, whose wife was brutally murdered in 1975. On May 8, 1987 while raising his young daughter alone, he was put under arrest and on his way to jail on charges of rape and murder. Since then, it has been a long hard road filled with twist and turns. Dennis Fritz is now on his "Journey Toward Justice". He never blamed the Lord and soley relied on his faith in God to make it through. He waited for God's time and never gave up.

Barbara's Journey Toward Justice said...

Dennis Fritz will be appearing on Hannity and Colmes FOX NEWS Feb.21, 2007 Wed.
Dennis Fritz is the Author of Journey Toward Justice.
Praise For Journey Toward Justice by John Grisham: "Journey Toward Justice" by: Dennis Fritz - The story of the unwarranted prosecution and wrongful conviction of Dennis Fritz is compelling and fascinating. 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.- John Grisham
Please watch this show and read his book Journey Toward Justice Amazing Story

For Information or Satellite Interviews, Questions on Book Tours or Speaking Locations with Dates or Requests For Speaking and Interviews with Dennis Fritz you can email him doc.fritz@yahoo.com

Please visit me at http://barbarasblogspot.blogspot.com