Beyond the Book: Background information when reading The Innocent Man

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The Innocent Man

Murder and Injustice in a Small Town

by John Grisham

The Innocent Man
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  • First Published:
    Oct 2006, 368 pages
    Nov 2007, 448 pages

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The sad tale of Ron Williamson & Dennis Fritz

Ada, Oklahoma local boy Ron Williamson achieved hero status when drafted by baseball's Oakland Athletics in 1971, but within a couple of seasons his baseball dreams had been dashed and he took to drowning his sorrows in alcohol.  In 1978, having twice been charged with rape and found not guilty, and having been left by his wife and having been in and out of mental institutions, he returned to Ada to live with his mother, where he became known around town as a drifter.  One of his few friends was Dennis Fritz, a high school science teacher, who was raising his 8-year-old daughter, Elizabeth, whose mother had been murdered by a deranged neighbor six years earlier.

In 1982, cocktail waitress Debbie Sue Carter was found raped and murdered in her Ada apartment, the crime scene strewn with forensic evidence.  Although there was no evidence connecting Williamson to Carter, and despite strong ...

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