McAlester News-Capital, McAlester, OK

State House

October 23, 2013

Innocence Project presses for new trial

Ada — A man, convicted of murdering Donna Denise, Haraway after she was abducted from an Ada convenience store nearly 30 years ago, has had his application for post-conviction relief granted.

Pontotoc County District Judge Tom Landrith has also ordered “hundreds of documents” the Oklahoma Innocence Project says were never disclosed in the case to be turned over to the court by Dec. 31.

Karl Fontenot, one of two men convicted in Haraway’s murder, has been in prison for the last 28 years, serving a sentence of life without parole.

The motion was filed originally in July by the Oklahoma Innocence Project at Oklahoma City University’s School of Law.

The group appeared before the judge  in September where he heard Tiffany Murphy’s motion for discovery in the Fontenot case.

Landrith made his ruling on that motion Monday.

Pontotoc County District Attorney Chris Ross disagrees with the Oklahoma Innocence Project’s assertion that the case has too many inconsistencies. He says there isn’t enough evidence to warrant a re-trial.

“Well, they aren’t jurors, you know,” Ross said. “Thirty-six jurors heard this evidence and  36 jurors found Ward and Fontenot guilty,” Ross said.

The D.A. also claims there is no new evidence, such as DNA, though would proves Fontenot’s innocence.

The state of Oklahoma has 30 days to respond to the documents filed by Oklahoma Innocence Project.

Ross said last summer that he has recused himself from the investigation, turning it over to the Oklahoma Attorney General’s office to  avoid any appearance of conflict of innocence.

Ross was unavailable for comment on the most recent developments in this case.

 

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