The Innocent Man

  • by John Grisham
  • Narrated by Craig Wasson
  • 12 hrs and 32 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook

Publisher's Summary

John Grisham's first work of nonfiction, an exploration of small town justice gone terribly awry, is his most extraordinary legal thriller yet. In the Major League draft of 1971, the first player chosen from the state of Oklahoma was Ron Williamson. When he signed with the Oakland A's, he said goodbye to his hometown of Ada and left to pursue his dreams of big league glory. Six years later he was back, his dreams broken by a bad arm and bad habits: drinking, drugs, and women. He began to show signs of mental illness. Unable to keep a job, he moved in with his mother and slept 20 hours a day on her sofa. In 1982, a 21-year-old cocktail waitress in Ada named Debra Sue Carter was raped and murdered, and for five years the police could not solve the crime. For reasons that were never clear, they suspected Ron Williamson and his friend Dennis Fritz. The two were finally arrested in 1987 and charged with capital murder. With no physical evidence, the prosecution's case was built on junk science and the testimony of jailhouse snitches and convicts. Dennis Fritz was found guilty and given a life sentence. Ron Williamson was sent to death row. If you believe that in America you are innocent until proven guilty, this book will shock you. If you believe in the death penalty, this book will disturb you. If you believe the criminal justice system is fair, this book will infuriate you.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

Good Book - Not Typical Grisham

I've read a few Grisham novels, but I'm not a diehard fan. This book is definitely a departure from his fiction. If you are expecting a "legal thriller" with unknown adversaries, legal twists and surprise endings, then this book isn't for you. Just stay away. If you want to read about a true miscarriage of justice, how it affected the individuals, and how it was finally resolved (too late in many respects), then you will enjoy this.

It's a dramatic case study of what can go wrong in our judicial system. Through each step of the process, it's obvious (in hindsight) where the police and Oklahoma legal processes go bad. Williamson continues to deteriorate over the years spent in a non-forgiving environment. There's no nice, happy ending wrap-up. This is real life, and the results are mixed at best. You won't enjoy it, and it should make even the most ardent death penalty supporters question the system.
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- Mark

Wake up people...

I am stunned by the reviews that find this book uninteresting and/or poorly written. It was difficult to read because it is the story of our wonderful American justice system at its absolute worst. It is also the story of a couple of dozen Americans who allow their prejudices to prosecute and convict two men for murder with absolutely zero evidence. A man in Columbus was recently jailed for eighteen months and tried for the murder of his twin brother with the same 'evidence', none whatsoever. This can happen to anyone. If you aren't interested in this problem then you need to pray that you are never mistaken for a suspect and end up on death row.
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- Michael H. Wagner

Book Details

  • Release Date: 09-18-2006
  • Publisher: Random House Audio