Netflix will explore murder, corruption and wrongful convictions in The Innocent Man, an upcoming docuseries based on John Grisham’s best-selling 2006 non-fiction book of the same name.
The six-part project, which launches globally on December 14th, focuses on the controversy behind two killings that occurred in Ada, Oklahoma in 1982 and 1984 – leading to murder charges for four men: Tommy Ward, Karl Fontenot, Ron Williamson and Dennis Fritz. The latter two were exonerated in 1999 through DNA evidence with help from non-profit legal organization the Innocence Project; at the time of his release, Williamson had served 11 years on death row and was five days away from being executed. Ward and Fontenot, who continue to serve life sentences, maintain their innocence.
A trailer for the documentary establishes the backstory and controversy surrounding the murders, focusing on the men’s controversial confessions and the lack of forensic and physical evidence.
“If I wrote The Innocent Man as a novel, folks probably wouldn’t believe it,” Grisham says in an interview clip. “In small towns like Ada, the prosecutors and the police were under enormous pressure to solve two sensational murders … We just don’t expect the police to play dirty. It’s all about winning. And along the way, if the truth gets blurred or twisted, that’s too bad.”
The Innocent Man includes interviews with Grisham, victims’ friends and families, Ada residents, journalists, lawyers and the Innocence Project co-director Barry Scheck. Grisham executive produced the series, and Clay Tweel directed.