So, OKJ2 is just getting started, and this investigative journalism takes time. Just to prove to you that miscarriages of justice do happen in Oklahoma and elsewhere in the United States, take a look at some of these wrongful convictions in which prisoners actually served many years behind bars for crimes they never committed, according to our legal system. OKJ2 had nothing to do with proving the innocence of any of these people, but it’s exactly the type of work we’re pursuing.
Michael Morton, a father of one son, was convicted in 1987 of murdering his wife, Christine, in August 1986. He served 25 years in prison before being found not guilty of the crime and was released in October 2011. What’s really interesting about this case is that the former district attorney who prosecuted Morton is now facing possible jail time and disbarment for allegedly withholding evidence from Morton’s lawyers at the time of his trial a quarter-century ago. The former district attorney, Ken Anderson, later became a district judge and resigned the bench in October 2012. A civil case filed against Anderson by the Texas Bar Association is now set to go to trial in November 2012.
Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
Thomas Webb was convicted in 1983 of raping and robbing a woman in her Norman apartment. He served 13 years of a 60-plus-years sentence before being released in the spring of 1996 after DNA evidence proved he was not the person at the scene of the crime.
Karl Fontenot and Tommy Ward were convicted in 1985 and sentenced to death for the murder of Denice Haraway, who worked at a convenience store in Ada, Okla. Even though Haraway’s body was not found until long after the trial, the two friends were convicted based on a “dream confession” they gave prosecutors after hours of interrogation. After the body was found, their testimony did not match the physical evidence found on the body. Their sentences were reduced from death to life imprisonment following a new trial in 1988. More recently, in August 2013, the Oklahoma Innocence Project at Oklahoma City University filed a brief with the courts asking for new evidence to be heard that Fortenot and Ward could not have been responsible. Both men remain in prison, and no court has yet determined that the pair are innocent.