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The Innocent Man: Murder and Justice in a Small Town by John Grisham
With The Innocent Man, John Grisham turns to a nonfiction story, telling of the gross miscarriage of justice in Ada, Oklahoma. Ronnie Williamson was a local boy destined for bigger things after being drafted by the Oakland A's of baseball. After a shoulder injury, drug and alcohol abuse, he returned to Ada a shell of his former self and sliding into mental illness. When a local woman was raped and murdered, the police soon turned to Williamson and his friend Dennis Fritz as prime suspects despite the lack of any physical evidence against them. After cobbling together a case based on Williamson's schizophrenic dreams, jailhouse snitches, and junk science, Williamson was convicted and sentenced to death. Only after a federal judge ordered a new trial and DNA evidence exonerated both men were they allowed to go free. The Innocent Man is a look at how overzealous officials can pervert justice just to win a conviction and it's received mostly positive reviews. The Portland Oregonian says, "Grisham's account of Williamson's case reminds us of the fragile nature of liberty and of the need to steadfastly defend it when government abuses its power and fails to protect individual rights guaranteed by the Constitution."