In the new two and a half minute trailer promoting The Innocent Man, author John Grisham admits that if he wrote the story as a novel, no one would believe it. A small town in Oklahoma was split by the murders of two young women and the subsequent convictions of four men. The documentary series examines the evidence and the convictions of the men, shining a spotlight on controversial confessions and sketchy forensics.
The six-part documentary series is based on The Innocent Man: Murder and Injustice in a Small Town, a non-fiction book by John Grisham. Clay Tweel (Finders Keepers, Gleason, Out of Omaha) and Ross Dinerstein developed the docuseries, with Tweel serving as director. Author John Grisham was involved as an executive producer and also appears in the documentary series. In addition, David Gernert served as an executive producer. Shannon Riggs and Maura Anderson produced.
Netflix has set a December 14, 2018 premiere date.
The Innocent Man Plot, Courtesy of Netflix:
In a story that gained national attention with John Grisham’s best-selling non-fiction book, the six-part documentary series The Innocent Man focuses on two murders that shook the small town of Ada, Oklahoma, in the 1980s — and the controversial chain of events that followed.
In 1982, 21-year-old Debra Sue “Debbie” Carter is raped and killed inside her home. In 1984, another Ada woman, 24-year-old Denice Haraway, is killed after being kidnapped from the convenience store where she works. Local men Tommy Ward and Karl Fontenot are charged with Haraway’s murder and sentenced to life in prison. A couple years later, police charge two other men, Ron Williamson and Dennis Fritz, with killing Carter. Fritz receives life in prison, while Williamson is sentenced to the death penalty.
Similarities emerge between how the two cases are handled; their videotaped confessions are questioned, as are forensics results and physical evidence (or lack thereof). In 1999, with help from non-profit legal organization the Innocence Project, DNA testing helps exonerate Williamson and Fritz. To this day, Ward and Fontenot remain in prison and maintain their innocence.