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Prosecutor made a website to counter Grisham's "The Innocent Man"

Prosecutor made a website to counter Grisham's "The Innocent Man"

Pontotoc County (OK) District Attorney William N. Peterson in Oklahoma, who sent the wrong man to prison for a 1982 murder which became the subject of a best-selling book by author John Grisham, has put up a website to tell his side of the story. Grisham’s response to the prosecutor’s criticisms: “Lose my address and fax number.”

The book “The Innocent Man: Murder and Injustice in a Small Town” is about the conviction and eventual exoneration of Ron Williamson in the 1982 rape and murder of Deborah Sue Carter in Ada. Williamson and Dennis Fritz were convicted with Williamson given the death penalty and Fritz life in prison.

Both were later cleared by DNA evidence and a key prosecution witness in the case has been convicted of the crime.

Bill Peterson says the book is not accurate and he’s started a website in which he disputes conclusions made by Grisham and points out suspected errors. He says circumstantial evidence convinced him at the time that Williamson and Fritz were the killers.

On his website, www.billpetersondistrictattorney.com, Peterson lays out why he believes the book is factually incorrect in an outline with at least a dozen points. Peterson meticulously cites page numbers where he suspects errors occurred and disputes conclusions Grisham made in his book, which remains on The New York Times best seller list.

“Mr. Grisham was not very truthful and honest, he was barely scratching the surface,” said Peterson, who has been elected to consecutive terms as district attorney since 1980. “I figure I’d put it all on the Web and let people decide for themselves whether I’ve really got horns and suck people’s blood from them. When people read this book, they think it’s true, it’s John Grisham. I’m just a little old country prosecutor from Ada, Oklahoma.” Grisham’s book makes Peterson and investigators look like they’re out to get Williamson and Fritz, Peterson said.

The case happened before DNA evidence was available, and circumstantial evidence found at the scene and taken from Williamson and Fritz seem to match up, Peterson said. DNA evidence later freed both men and linked Glen Gore to the murder. He was convicted in 2006.

“I’ve tried to conduct myself in an honorable way for 27 years. I was what I was. I was a prosecutor, a passionate prosecutor,” Peterson said. “I went after them. I was convinced they killed Debbie Carter. If that was your mother, your sister or your daddy who was killed, you wouldn’t want a pansy prosecutor. You would want someone passionate.”

A publicist for Grisham’s publishing company did not offer comment on the site.

Included on Peterson’s website is correspondence between Peterson and Grisham that occurred after the book came out last fall. After some exchanges in which Peterson attempts to point out inconsistencies in the book, the author tells Peterson, “I have no desire to re-hash the facts and bicker about who’s right and who’s wrong. I do not read reviews, fan letters, hate letters, and I will read nothing else from you. Save yourself some time. Lose my address and fax number.”

Sources: kait8, Crime Scene KC (PDF file)

49 Comments

  • February 15, 2007 at 4:36 PM Amy Payne

    Interesting. I have printed off Mr Peterson’s information from his website and will read it. I find it funny that on the scanned letters between himself and Mr Grisham, he crosses out his fax/phone #, yet leaves Mr Grishams address and # visable.
    Mr Grisham’s novel seems to represent the same facts that I’ve read else where. I will be curious to read Mr Peterson information. I throughly enjoyed this book, as I suspected I would, and had a very difficult time putting it down. Another outstanding novel by Mr Grisham!!

  • February 20, 2007 at 11:52 AM Jane Beard Papke

    It’s difficult to tell who is right and who is wrong, but the thing that irks me the most is that, after wrongly sending Fritz and Williamson to prison for 12 years, neither Peterson, City of Ada, or the State of Oklahoma offered an apology for the gross miscarriage of justice that took so many years from the men’s lives. If that is true, then everything Peterson claims as integrity on his site is a lie. That is the very least he should have done. I began this book wanting Ada to be in a good light, since my family founded Ada (John Beard), but in the end, I was just embarassed.

  • April 29, 2007 at 12:04 PM Dee

    I was born and raised in Ada, OK and was still living there when this murder took place. The fact of the matter is that this town was so hell bent on solving this murder that they didnt care who they convicted, as long as there was a conviction. The D.A. comes from the prominent side of Ada and will have a job as the D.A. for as long as he wants it no matter what kind of mistakes or injustices are done, because as long as the “money” people are in charge, the other “money” people feel safer.

  • September 3, 2007 at 4:09 PM Tonya

    It’s a shame that this injustice has not produced more of an outrage. In my message to Peterson, I expressed my hope that he receive the same “justice” his partner in self-serving rhetoric, namely Mike Nifong, received. And lastly, Amy, this is only typical of the self-serving crap Peterson has tried to shove down our throats.

  • October 15, 2007 at 4:18 PM Willem (from the Netherlands)

    I was amazed reading the book. It seems Justice in the US is ages behind Europe. E.g. when someone is wrongfully imprisoned in Holland (it happens!), the victim is entitled to a fixed amount of compensation for each day.
    Furthermore, the book is one lengthy essay arguing against juries and against electing DA’s.
    For the rest, my compliments to the author for this book!

  • November 2, 2007 at 1:10 PM Marvin

    Contrary to the conclusions of some, it is not difficult to know which is right. When you read Peterson’s rebuttal, remember to ask yourself if he addresses the failure to take hair and blood samples from Gore, the last person Debbie was seen alive with? Then ask yourself if he addresses why he withheld exculpatory evidence, which is against the law and a violation of the defendant’s constitutional rights. All the other little niggling “errors” are just “smoke.” The evidence is clear that the miscarriage of justice was discovered and understood BEFORE the DNA analyses. The only person who couldn’t see the light was ‘ol Bill.
    There are two kinds of people in the world: the ones that quickly make up their minds what is right and thereafter exclude all information that contradicts what they now believe, and those who tentatively make up their minds, and keep themselves open to new information. A prosecutor must be of the latter type, else he/she will be an instrument of gross injustice. Sadly, it is clear that Peterson still believes he is right, DNA evidence notwithstanding. It is to the shame of the Ada citizens that they can’t see through the smoke and discover the truth.

  • November 30, 2007 at 7:44 PM Ralph Prickett

    Peterson’s suit against Grisham et-al is “eye wash”, and will go nowhere.

    The fact that the DA and his organization were sued, and lost before, shows the weakness of any case he could bring.

    Its good news that he has chosen to retire. It is the unarticulated imperitives of a society that say the most about it, and the fact that Ada would never vote him out says the most about they themselves.

  • December 19, 2007 at 7:51 PM david

    as much as i would like to get upset about the events in ada, i find that it does not surprise me, lots of people will tel you about the injustice in the american system but it really does not count unless it is really exposed by the likes of barry scheck and mark barret, and then everyone acts surprised.as for bill peterson, nothing surprising there, just another hick old boy ho can do n wrong in his honky tonky town. i actually hope he runs into one his wrongfully convicted felons late at night on a dark road and see how he feels.

  • December 22, 2007 at 9:13 PM Bob Mac

    I read Grisham’s book and I have read numerous accounts of Mr Peterson’s side of the story. Notice that during his “research” Grisham did not question any Law enforcement Officers or anybody from the Proecutor” office. I find this strange in itself as these were the people who were involved and one would think that they might have some information that Grisham could use in his book. Grisham would have you believe that all the Police and Prosecutors are rotten to the core. Where does he get this information from? He gets all his information for this “Book” from ordinary citizens, Criminals and people with a limited knowledge of what went on. Not once did he question any law Enforcement personnel connected to this case. Why is it that some of you are so quick to believe these people and not a Prosecutor who has served his Town for 25 years + and still keeps getting voted in by the decent people. This book is so biased that it is sickening. If the Police were going to frame these men then they would have just planted evidence and came up with an admission of guilt and claim that the Accused persons had confessed. They would have done it the first year instead of investigating for several years. By reading some of the comments on here, it is pretty sad that some of you accept Grishams word as 100% factual. This guy is trying to sell a book and maybe the absolute truth here would not have made it very interesting so he improvised by adding stuff that did not happen, left stuff out that should have been mentioned and guessed the rest.
    Keep in mind that Grisham is a lawyer and we all know that lawyers always tell the truth and never make anything up or exaggerate.
    Come on people read between the lines of this book.

  • December 23, 2007 at 4:32 PM Paul

    I have never read a story in the news media that accurately reflected all the events of any incident I had personal knowledge of. Books are surely the same. I am always amazed at how a conclusion can be arrived at that seems to be at odds with my knowledge and my interpretation. I guess I am human too! The notion of truth and accuracy seems to be something that we would all like, we all claim it, but biases are always there.

    I read the book on the plane – frankly, the first hundred or more pages were hard to get through…I nearly left it on the seat of the plane….but I finished it and then went to the web and read pretty much everything I could find including Peterson’s extensive rebuttal.

    The real heroes if there are any, are Payne, Chesley and Seay. The fact that they reviewed the case and found clear and convincing (to them) evidence of a mismanaged trial BEFORE the DNA evidence was available tells me a lot. I’ve lived in “small town USA” for many years and it seems to go with the territory that we end up with what we pay for in legal, healthcare and even education. I don’t so much agree with Grisham’s reflection of Peterson and the small town cops as being nasty and malicious, rather I think its a matter of lack of competence (as opposed to incompetence).

    Peterson says that he did what he did because it was the logical thing to do at the time. To some extent he is correct – but it is also a fact that the Jim Payne reviewed the same materials Peterson had and came to a different (and apparently correct) conclusion.

    Noone likes their good name dragged through the mud – particularly in public. But Peterson was the force that obtained a conviction for these men that essentially destroyed their lives. If Peterson was as good as he claims in his website, and if he was fooled by the evidence chain so much, why did he not question his own motives earlier? I don’t think its easy for any prosecutor – they have a tough job and I suspect we don’t pay them so well. But what we give them in return is incredible power. When they send my brother, father, cousin, friend, or someone I have never heard of before to the death chamber, they better be sure without any possible doubt that they are correct. This means trying to disprove their own theories, critically evaluating their own data, questioning the accuracy of their own detectives, witnesses and motives.

    Only then can the Bill Peterson’s of this world do their jobs with impunity.

  • December 27, 2007 at 12:38 PM Greg

    Can someone please tell me why Bill Peterson was allowed to keep his job after nearly costing two innocent men their lives? Surely his gross misconduct is worthy of prosecution and a prison sentence? If Peterson prosecuted all his past cases like this he likely has the blood of innocent men on his hands.

    Traveling to Ada sounds like a scary prospect. I know I’ll never go there.

  • January 6, 2008 at 8:31 AM Arthur

    Peterson is a perfect example of what is wrong with the justice system in this country. His web site is a weak attempt at covering up his incompetence by pointing out the few inaccuracies that Grisham stated in his book. Compared to the host of inaccuracies, lies, misconceptions, ignorance of factual information and just plain incompetence, that Mr. Peterson has displayed, Grisham’s mistakes seem inconsequential.
    His web site is a poor attempt at covering his own failures. Just the fact that he knowingly allowed a former police chief of the town to sit on the jury without revelation of that fact is enough for me to rate Bill Peterson as a low life who should have been removed from office a long time ago. As Bob Dylan said many years ago it “Makes you feel ashamed to live in a land where justice is a game”.

  • January 7, 2008 at 8:20 AM Jones

    Read the book and studied Peterson’s site in depth. Peterson you are still wrong. You failed big time and all for self esteem. You are a big fish in a little pond (Ada) and you exploited it to the end. You still do not have the courage or honesty to correct or admit your horrendous behaviour. In spite of witnesses identifying Glenn Gore as the last person to be seen with Deborah Carter, why was this man allowed to evade questioning or even come under suspicion and questioning by police. Answer: the apalling police and judicial system in Ada. When are the cases of Ward and Fontenot to be reviewed Peterson?

  • March 2, 2008 at 1:49 PM Pam

    Mr. Peterson needs to learn the difference between the words “passionate” and “overzealous”.

  • March 9, 2008 at 12:57 PM Ben

    Bill Peterson, I have just read the book and your website. I must say you are an asshole. The best thing that you can do in your life is now start reviewing all the cases that you have worked so far and apologize to the innocent people that you harassed or convicted. Start apologizing with Ron and Dennis.

  • May 23, 2008 at 2:33 PM Sara

    Bob Mac: Are you related to Bill Peterson or are you Bill Peterson? Clearly, only a relation (or Bill himself) would stand up for someone that has so clearly violated the justice system he was put in place to protect.

  • June 23, 2008 at 4:04 AM thomas michaelides

    Twice I have defended innocent men from criminal charges. Both times the prosecutor, who were clearly passionate about their jobs, shook my client’s hand after the jury returned their verdict. I think they knew then they were wrong, but were just their jobs. Peterson has no doubt he was wrong, DNA proved that, yet he will not apoligize to two men he put behind bars for years, one he almost had killed. It takes a special kind of person to be a prosecutor, passionate to a point where logic then takes over. These two were both just out of law school. They are everything that Peterson is not, and can never be.

  • June 28, 2008 at 7:47 AM Robbie UK

    I’ve just finished reading the book, I’ve also read Petersons website and his excuses. I’ve also read the comments on several websites left by folk saying they were from Ada.
    My conclusion is that I’m astonished that Peterson has been allowed to continue as DA as long as he has, it’s absolutely incredible.
    His continued reference (throughout his excuses) to the JG book as a ‘novel’ speaks volumes about the man to me.
    I sincerely hope his actions and incompetence have caused him a lot of grief and stress, even then it will be nowhere near the amount of distress he himself caused at least 2 innocent men to suffer, very probably many more.
    I hope Grisham sticks it to him in court if the idiot Peterson actually has the gall to pursue hi libel case.
    Well done John Grisham for bringing this atrocity to the attention of the masses.

  • June 30, 2008 at 12:34 PM Rich NYC

    I applaud Grisham for another fine book. I thought this non-fiction was indeed an eye opener to the potential ills of the american justice system and should be read by every american. I still can’t see what’s Peterson doing with this lawsuit of his. If I were him, i’d banish myself from all public attention.

    I used to watch ‘dirty harry’ movies and other cop shows and always thought to myself how the system seem to limit the cops from putting away criminals, after the movie of course clearly make known the criminals, hiding behind their ‘rights’. Now I think differently. It’s sad that such injustices take place. Thank god for such projects as the ‘innocence project’.

    So what about the other two guys, Ward and Fontenot? What’s being done about them?

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ward_and_Fontenot

  • July 31, 2008 at 8:03 AM Britesun UK

    Bob Mac: In response to your closing comments.

    Grisham is a lawyer and Bill Peterson also is a ……?

  • August 13, 2008 at 2:06 PM Agostino Sanna

    I’m an Italian Law Enforcement Officer. It’s difficult for me to accept what two of my “colleagues” did while investigating such a horrible crime. We don’t have the “miranda rights” in Italy, but we do have something similar. In any case, confessions or rumors cannot be used in court if they the lawyer is not present. They can be used only for further investigation. We never treat witnesses or suspects like that. Grisham has rightfully enphasized those misconducts and the errors or discrepancies found by D.A. Peterson in Mr. Grisham’s book are not going to send anybody to death row. The urge to find a killer is understandable in a small town and in a big city as well, but I’d rather have 100 killers hitting the streets than one innocent in jail.

  • September 16, 2008 at 12:50 PM YK

    I read through what B Peterson has to say about Grisham, and I have to say B Peterson did not read Grisham’s book carefully. It may work in the court room in Ada, I doubt it will work in his case against Grisham and others.

  • September 25, 2008 at 5:52 PM Scott in Virginia

    In regards to the comments by Augustino Sanna, to hear an Italian in law enforcement criticize American law enforcement is laughable. The Italians have long had the most notoriously corrupt police and government in all of Europe. It’s kind of like hearing an old prostitute complain about the loose morals of a younger prostitute. Another great book by Grisham nonetheless!

  • October 3, 2008 at 10:40 PM Jim

    I’ve been both a lawyer, a police officer and combined the two to serve as legal adviser to the Police. I know first-hand that there is corruption out there and that it’s all too easy to fit the facts to the man, when the pressure turns up. Like the vast majority of good, honest cops I always managed to resist the temptation, but it seems that good ‘ole Bill Peterson did not. And, more than once! Having analysed the facts in an objective fashion it seems clear to me that not only is he a disgrace to his profession, the fact that he has never apologised is inexcusable. But it’s hard to apologise when you can’t admit the truth to yourself, let alone the people you wronged. If you ever did any good work, Bill, it will forever be overshadowed by your momentous cock-ups.

  • October 9, 2008 at 5:29 PM michael

    I read Grisham’s book and also Peterson’s website and I’ve come to the conclusion, like most of my family and friends, that peterson is the antichrist. From the land down under…go to hell pete.

    Mick

  • November 1, 2008 at 1:32 PM Sivaram UK

    Everybody does mistakes..sometimes to coverup the fist one people do another…then it goes on..at some point people realize that they were wrong..either by themselves or by other means…When truth comes out in the open..decent people accept their mistakes say sorry and get rid of the guilt…Only fools still keep fighting for THEIR beliefs…Strange creatures..Humans!

  • November 22, 2008 at 6:51 AM billpeterson isevil

    I sincerely believe that Bill Peterson should be on death row. At the minimum, disbarred and the target of another major civil lawsuit against him and those individuals within Ada law enforcement who knowingly targeted innocent individuals and illegally trampled upon their rights. Bill Peterson: you are an unremorseful, evil man whom I would imagine many will be happier upon your death. Those of you in law enforcement in the area who still engage in such activity: BEWARE; the public is watching you!
    For all practical purposes, Bill Peterson murdered Ron Williamson. He destroyed years of Dennis Fritz life and subjected him to of the most horrible predicaments possible: to be recommended for capital punishment and subsequently sentenced to life in prison and for something of which he was innocent. Bill Peterson sent other innocents to prison including Tommy Ward and Karl Fontenot and apparently is content that they continue to suffer in incarceration.
    Residents of Ada and Oklahoma should pressure their senators, congressmen, and govenor’s office to conduct police internal affairs (with FBI involvement if possible) into the present and past connection of members of the police department and possibly district attorney’s office with illegal drug trafficing. The link between the drug trafficing by Glen Gore and the Ada Police was mentioned in Grisham’s The Innocent Man. It just might be continuing today particularly given the large cash flow generally assumed to exist in drug trafficing. John Grisham, Dennis Fritz, Robert Mayer, and the legal team responsible for the exhonoration of Williamson and Fritz should be commended for their perseverance, diligence, and call to duty for justice. It is furthurmore a disgrace that Tommy Ward and Karl Fontenot remain in jail. Residents of Oklahoma, you have a civil duty to pressure your public officials to reverse the dreadful injustice led by Bill Peterson which continues to punish two innocent people who remain incarcerated today. Public officials of Oklahoma and especially those of Pontotoc County and in particular Ada: Shame on You!!! Clean up your act and serve your constituents rather than terrorizing them!!!

  • December 30, 2008 at 3:11 AM Randy

    Bill Peterson is a joke. Refusal to acknowledge such a massive and clear error on his part shows the character of the man – he seems almost pathologically unable to admit wrongdoing.

    The primary motivator for Peterson is the welfare of Peterson, not justice. He’s been shown a blatant miscarriage of justice that happened on his watch, and his response is to avoid the issue, remind everyone of how good he is, and take potshots at his detractors. A juvenile response from a juvenile man. However, in his defence, he has been conditioned to be this way by the continuing support of the people of Ada. Combine his personality flaws with the invulnerability of being a District Attorney in a small town, and this is what you get.

    What about the Ada police and Glen Gore? Despite the circumstances, he was overlooked as a suspect numerous times. He also received favourable treatment from the Ada police because he was involved in the drug trade with them. It’s possible that one or more officers KNEW Gore had killed Debbie Carter but deliberately avoided investigating him, which would explain why all his submitted samples went missing. So we have rotten cops doing drug deals with murderers while arresting and charging innocent people with those murders. Then they pass the murder file along to one William Peterson, and the deal is done.

    This is only one story that has leaked out to find the light of day, imagine what else goes on with people like this in control…

  • January 2, 2009 at 12:47 AM Solo

    This is not injustice exclusively to the people of Ada but to humanity at large. It’s laughable that Peterson is threatening John with Law suit. “Peterson you are a murderer and nobody will ever believe you. And as you retire you should be thankful to the rotten system that should otherwise have sent you for retirement in death row.

  • March 31, 2009 at 11:09 AM canadian

    A real man can admit when he’s made a mistake. Peterson is too hell bent on being right and proving he’s not an idiot for not seeing what should have been an obvious suspect in Glen Gore. I’m uphalled that the case got as far as to send Ron and Dennis to jail, far less to death row. I can only hope that karma can correct the injustice that those poor men faced. All of Peterson’s and Ada’s cases should be reviewed to see how many other innocent men and women are locked up.

  • May 1, 2009 at 8:38 AM Sanjeev

    I have read Bill Peterson’s website word for word and I think the only advice that I can give him is that stop being a sore loser. Keep you head high say I made a mistake and I am sorry for it, in so many words. Anything else and he will continue to embarrass himself further.
    The point by point denials or allegations or refutals or whatever he has on his website show what happens to a man (if he ever was one) when he is bent upon not admitting a simple mistake. He has figures on the site about 130 plus cases that have been solved with modern testing. I am sure none of those attorneys still claim to be right and keep being non apologetic about it.
    I do not know how he faces himself in the mirror, or maybe this is the only way he can face himself in the mirror, by denying and denying that he has done something wrong.
    May god have mercy on his soul and someone teach him how to be a decent man…

  • May 1, 2009 at 8:53 AM Sanjeev

    One correction .. it is more than 190 cases that he (Bill) mentions, if you read the text it actually is telling you, well I am not alone, yes you are not the only moron there are others but you are proving yourself to be the biggest one. He also says that he did not know the facts until 2006, well what else can anyone expect from an attorney of his caliber. Learning the facts after 24 years….. that sure did took some growing up Bill….. way to go …………to hell….

  • May 22, 2009 at 5:33 AM KB

    I was really shocked when I found this notice while searching net about this case:
    “The state made no reparations for the mistake that turned him from a high-school baseball hero into a condemned man, No. 134846, other than to mail him the standard $50 check given to all inmates who are destitute upon release”

    It is really a shame that a great nation like USA who victimized evidently two innocent citizens by their own justice machinery, were not willing to pay any compensation except of ridiculous 50 bucks at first glance!!
    Unbelievable and scary indeed for a person like me living in Germany, a country which apparently learned much better from injustice committed in past…

  • June 12, 2009 at 3:42 PM Syd Rain

    I’ve never believed in hell, but Bill Peterson makes me wish I did. I’d love to imagine him rotting away there, preferably after dying from a long and painful illness. This travesty is just more evidence that all the jokes about “Oklahoma justice” are true. So glad I don’t live there!

  • June 27, 2009 at 3:30 AM Suzanne Warf

    Its a disgrace that Bill Peterson carried on working after this “sham” of a prosecution was uncovered. What IS wrong with this town? Are they really that moronic? He should of been fired and all the dirty cops brought up on charges! I was very saddened to hear that nothing happened to these scum bags and they never apologised! Shameful, I am at a loss for words ……

    A great book by a great man (John Grisham -The Innocent Man)

  • July 8, 2009 at 3:13 PM Dan Vincio

    Any decent man would hold his hands up and say sorry but not ‘Blundering Bill’. It would appear that B.B. decided that they were guilty and ignored any evidence to the contrary. He disgusts me. Leopards never change their spots so it is most concerning that two others are still serving life based on the work of this apparent evil man whose credentials not just from Grisham’s book but his joke of a website, trying lamely to defend the indefensible, are zero.

    I leave you with one last thought about the quality and integrity of this man. He labels Grisham’s last fax response ‘angry’. But how does the he know that? Perhaps Grisham was laughing about the absurdity of the man when he wrote the short reply. To save you time, let me give you the answer. Blundering Bill just assumes that. No basis to back it up just another arrogant example of why these innocent peoples’ lives were ruined by him. Bill, mate, better you were never born.

  • July 11, 2009 at 5:31 PM Jim Leal

    I was so angry when I listened to the audio version of this great story. These men were locked up for years by a justice system that had no clue as to what they were doing. I actually emailed the Chamber Of Commerce in Ada and they told me in no uncertain terms that John Grisham’s book had most of the facts correct, with a little spice added here and there to make it more interesting. America and Canada are the two greatest countries, but sometimes they let us down. The truth will always prevail.

    Jim Leal
    Ontario Canada

  • July 26, 2009 at 1:58 AM Dapper Dam

    I am surprised that most everyone that posted a reply are not aware that the normal government (state, county, federal or whatever)unwritten rule is when one of their own makes assine decisions that some other person above or below his or her status would do something more stupid to justify that. Thank God for the very few in government that are honest and realizes that when they die the only thing you take with you is INTRGRITY.

  • September 1, 2009 at 3:45 AM Mel C. Thompson

    What we liberals do, when we argue innocence, is presume a certain humanity in rednecks which does not exist in them. They are incapable of feeling human feelings about innocent people who differ slightly from them. So we naive liberals are busy arguing innocence and guilt to a populace who frankly doesn’t care. Conservatives, by and large, are happy if “losers go to jail,” and that’s why conservatives re-elect, like clockwork, prosecutors who are far more criminal that the people they prosecute. As long as prosecutors prosecute “deviants,” then conservative Americans like them.

    We liberals forget that a third of America is thoroughly juvenile and exists in a middle-school-bully frame of consciousness. I know, because I was born with a birth defect, and the ruthlessness of redneck Americans was a daily fact for me as a child and is to this very day as rednecks shout insults from cars as I make my way home from the train station every night.

    For as much as we liberals dislike conservatives, we keep presuming, like believers in the Geneva Convention, that there are opponents out there who have actual souls and would care about anything as abstract as justice. Probably a third of Americans frankly don’t care who is innocent or guilty, just so long as “losers and weirdos go to jail,” and another third might consider caring about justice if they happen to be in a tolerant mood that day. On any given day, two thirds of Americans may or may not care who is in prison or why.

    Mel C. Thompson.

  • September 1, 2009 at 2:55 PM Catherine

    Peterson, your refusal to apologize to Dennis Fritz and Ron Williamson (while he was alive), and your negligence in not revisiting the cases of Tommy Ward and Karl Fontenot using the investigative tool of DNA testing, are just two examples of your incompetence and failure as a consciencious “people’s prosecutor” and a decent human being. The citizens of Ada should have voted you out of office years ago. Small town or not – people, wake up!

    I can only hope that the new prosecutor’s office will take a serious look into your conviction record to identify other potential persons you have railroaded into prison or, worse, into the death chamber.

    It appears that even after what Dennis Fritz was forced to endure, he has chosen to direct his efforts toward self examination and the tearing down of defensive walls so he can heal and love again, and to campaign for justice and fair treatment for convicted persons.

    Who is the better man – The coward who will not admit his own incompetence and abused his power with no regard for fairness, or the wrongly convicted man who chooses to work for the good of others?

    Thank you, John Grisham, for this look into our legal system (notice I did not say “justice” system). Every citizen needs to be aware, and every citizen needs to get involved. It is the only way to make our system just.

  • September 12, 2009 at 6:10 PM Tom Glenn

    I just finished this book yesterday and it left me depressed and like most of you angry at the people of Ada, Ok. Today I read Jim Peterson’s response to the book, and was humbled and ashamed that I had been so quick to judge. It is easy to forget that there really are at least two sides to every story.
    While Grisham exposes a terrible injustice against innocent men, he also commits a grave injustice in his gross distortion of the facts in this case.
    I went to bed last night thinking Ward and Fontenot were in prison unjustly, and believing that the people of Ada must be fools to re-elect Peterson. Now I think he was far fairer to the defendants than Grisham was in his portrayal of the people involved. Yes his comments are biased and self serving, but still fairer than Grisham.
    Comments by many posters here show that they are far less concerned about truth and fairness than the prosecutor was. Mel Thompson’s statements show the kind of arrogance and bigotry that I have learned to expect from “we liberals”. Catherine’s comments about DNA demonstrate that she is unaware that there is no DNA evidence in Ward and Fontenot’s cases.
    This case was a tragedy of human error, bad science, and an unwillingness of people to question their own beliefs. Sadly Grisham’s book commits some of these same injustices in his handling of the case, as do most of the commentors on this site. In reading the book I could only imagine people with a lynch-mob mentality; reading these comments I can see that attitude first hand.

  • October 17, 2009 at 10:58 AM johpens

    peterson dog…u’r worst than a killer…

  • January 8, 2010 at 10:26 PM Mike, Thailand

    I finished the book last night and must admit that it’s one of the few non-fictional books I have read. An amazing read and one that puts a devastating aspect forward that Petersen in a dreadful light. Along with his side kicks he destroyed families and lives and then had the arrogance to assume he was the one who instigated their freedon. He should be thrown out of ofice. He would have seen Ron killed rather than face being wrong. Such an arrogant fool. I ask the question….why did Petersen not resign after his awful handling of so many cases, where people are still in prison convicted on dubious grounds. There is a frightening photo in the book. It pictures Ron and Dennis in the courtroom at the time of the case being disnmissed. The joy on Dennis’s face is amazing and Ron looks totally bemused. But look at the crowd in the courtroom behind them. Not a single smile. They look angry at the decision. They should have been applauding justice. They look like they would rather take them both outside and hang them….just to be on the safe side.

  • January 18, 2010 at 2:43 PM Lucy

    Sara, I was thinking the exact same thing about Bob Mac. He must definately be related or it just might be Peterson himself. What an ass!

  • January 21, 2010 at 4:26 PM Corey Bryant

    I have read Grisham’s book and Bill
    Peterson’s website and I think Peterson
    is right to some degree that Grisham should
    have dug a little deeper and a little harder.
    I didn’t know Ron Williamson had a
    competency hearing until Peterson mentioned
    it on his site.

    As sympathetic as I am to Williamson and
    Dennis Fritz, I do think that one should report ALL the facts.

  • January 29, 2010 at 4:48 PM Bob

    you read Grisham’s book then you say: “I didn’t know Ron Williamson had a
    competency hearing until Peterson mentioned
    it on his site.” .. I’m reading the book and have already seen that. Clearly publishing all the facts doesn’t matter because too many see only what they want to see, especially so called law enforcement officials who want to make a name for themselves without regard to who gets hurt .. especially if it’s just some scumbag troublemaker, crazy fool drunk.

  • February 15, 2010 at 6:36 PM Alison

    Unfortunately Peterson was not the only one at fault. The jurors are just as culpable for the destruction of the lives of these men. I hope they all burn for their part in this story.

  • February 27, 2010 at 3:18 PM Derek

    Grisham didn’t dig deeper because he probably thought if he went to Ada, he might…oh I don’t know…get framed for rape and murder!

    There’s a special place in Hell for Bill Peterson, Dennis Smith, and Gary Rogers- they can hang out with their buddies from the Gestapo.

  • March 8, 2010 at 11:18 PM Tanya

    The only thing I can say is that I hope I don’t ever get stopped in Ada OK for, I don’t know, “J” Walking. I think I might just end up on death row…

    How could anyone; cops, district attorneys, jurors or even CAVEMEN believe the “evidence” and actually convict these men with the obvious discrepancies in their “confessions” and with alibis? This just screams, lazy, incompetent and allot a back slapping (the night the lights went out in Georgia) type of thing.

    This really scares me, to think that the ones that are supposed to protect and find the truth only want to scratch that item off their to-do list.

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