BOOK REVIEW: THE INNOCENT MAN
This is an exceptional true book that John Grisham has given to his readers. The Innocent Man causes the readers to place themselves in the position of a prisoner when they are not guilty but have been charged as guilty and sentenced to death or life without parole. It is not a place anyone would want to be in but rather be FAR from it. The story occurs mostly in Oklahoma in and near the city of Ada. Peggy Stilwellís beautiful daughter, Debbie Carter, was one that liked to live by herself and do things that she wanted to do without her mother or anyone interfering. She wanted to be independent. Some of the places at which she worked or hung out were not the best places in town but as I said, Debbie was a free spirit.
When Peggy Stilwell found her daughter nude, bloodied, raped, and dead on the floor in her own apartment, she was horrified. The investigation began by tracing her activities from the time she got off work early to when her body was found. In 1982 many of the present day tools for tracing clues were not available but the shoddy work done by the inexperienced police force in Ada did not help the situation at all. Many possible suspects were interviewed, many of which were let go without close investigation. After several months the trail finally got to Ron Williamson. Ron had been a baseball nut, playing for his schools wherever he went and being quite successful until alcohol started dimming his ability to play. He would not accept that his career was over no matter how old he got. His mind always retained that he was a great baseball player and still could play with the best.
As time went on, his drinking and drug use became a huge detriment to his living and his ability to keep friends. His short-term marriage ended. He went from one rehab center to another. Eventually Ron Williamson and Dennis Fritz were arrested and charged with the murder of Debbie Carter and the police suspected they were also involved in some other rapes and murders. Dennis Fritz was not nearly suspected as much as Ron so most of the attention and investigation and some very shoddy police work was done against Ron Williamson.
Ron was out of prison at times but he was repeatedly rearrested, again because of the uncertain evidence gathered by the police. Eventually Ron Williamson settled into his prison life while getting more and more mentally unstable as every week passed. He was sent to various psychiatric hospitals and was interviewed by many shrinks all of who thought he was very unstable. Life in prison was a nightmare for any inmate but especially worse for someone in Ronís condition. He aged very fast even though he wasnít an old man.
This true story will guide you though Ron Williamsonís life from youth to his final days and all he endured in and out of prison. Another book that is hard to put down. Knowing it is a true story makes it even harder to absorb and makes one wonder about our justice system. Please read this great story by a terrific author.
REVIEWED BY CY HILTERMAN
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