Man at center of ‘Innocent Man’ documentary may soon be free

MUSKOGEE, Okla. (AP) — A federal judge has placed the man at the center of a documentary series “The Innocent Man” on the path to potential freedom.

U.S. District Judge James Payne of Muskogee, Oklahoma, has ruled there was reasonable doubt that Karl Fontenot (FAHN’-teh-noh) should have been convicted in 1988 in the kidnapping and killing of Ada convenience store clerk Denice Haraway in 1984.

Payne gave the state 120 days to grant Fontenot a new trial or release him permanently.

Fontenot’s case was the focus of the John Grisham book “The Innocent Man” and a later Netflix documentary series by the same name.

In Payne’s opinion filed Wednesday, he found that Fontenot’s mental illnesses raised serious questions about the validity of his uncorroborated confession. Fontenot’s account of what happened came from a dream he says he had about the killing.

An Oklahoma attorney general spokesman says the judge’s order is still being reviewed.

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