Warning: Spoilers ahead for Netflix's The Innocent Man.
Netflix's true crime wave is showing no signs of slowing down. Following up on docu-series like Making a Murderer and The Staircase, Netflix's new series, The Innocent Man, also calls into question the guilt of the perpetrators it focuses on. Karl Fontenot and Tommy Ward were both convicted in the 1984 murder of Denice Haraway in Ada, OK, but later recanted their confessions and claimed to be innocent. The Netflix series chronicles the twists and turns of the trials, and it ultimately shows viewers where Fontenot and Ward are now.
As of 2018, both men remain in prison serving out life sentences for Haraway's murder. But they are working on getting those convictions overturned and have been doing so for years. Fontenot and Ward were initially sentenced to death after their 1985 convictions, according to The Oklahoman. Even though Haraway's body hadn't been found, the two men were tried based on videotaped confessions where Ward described having a dream that he kidnapped and killed Haraway with Fontenot and another man.
Per Oklahoma's News 9, the third man ended up having an alibi and was not arrested. Ward and Fontenot were both convicted in a joint trial. Then, in 1986, on the day Fontenot and Ward were due to be executed, Haraway's remains turned up, another Oklahoman article reported. The development in the case allowed for Ward and Fontenot to be retried, this time separately.
Episode 4 of the Netflix series notes that the pair were granted those trials in 1989. Fontenot was again sentenced to death, but Ward was sentenced to life in prison, per The Oklahoman. Then, in 1994, Fontenot's death sentence was vacated and he was resentenced. Oklahoma inmate records show that he was given life in prison without the possibility of parole.
According to The Oklahoman, many of the details they'd initially shared in their confessions were inconsistent with the remains. For example, neither man mentioned shooting Haraway, but she was found with a bullet wound in her head. Fontenot had also claimed to have set the body on fire, but the remains discounted that.
Despite these inconsistencies, both men were again convicted. Oklahoma inmate records report that Fontenot received life in prison without the possibility of parole, and Ward received life.
Later, in 2013, The Innocence Project's website reported that the Oklahoma chapter had selected Fontenot as their first client and had begun working on his appeal. In 2015, The Oklahoman reported that his appeal was denied by an Oklahoma county district judge who ruled that it had been too long since Fontenot's initial conviction date.
Netflix's final episode noted that Fontenot's legal team is now pursuing a federal appeal. Meanwhile, Ward's own post-conviction relief attempt was also denied, but he's filing a new appeal as well.
As of 2018, Oklahoma inmate records indicate that both men have spent over 30 years in prison. Fontenot is serving out his sentence at the North Fork Correctional Center in Sayre, OK. He's now 54 years old.
Ward is at the Dick Conner Correctional Center in Hominy, OK. He's 58 years old. The final episode of the Netflix series showed that Ward is so determined to prove his claims of innocence that he wouldn't admit guilt even if it would help his chances of getting parole.
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