The Oklahoma Innocence Project is working to free a man imprisoned for the 1984 kidnapping and murder of convenience store clerk in Ada.
Oklahoma Innocence Project at Oklahoma City University School of Law filed an application and brief Wednesday in support of post-conviction relief on behalf of Karl Fontenot, 48. Fontenot was one of two men convicted of the murder, robbery and kidnapping of Donna Denice Haraway who disappeared April 28, 1984, from McAnally’s convenience store in Ada.
It is the first case the project has sought to overturn since it was created in 2011.
Project head Tiffany Murphy says she believes an innocent man is imprisoned.
In a press conference Tuesday at the School of Law, she outlined OIP’s reasons for filing for the relief.
“Nothing had been established in the state’s case,” she said. “The police had information they did not disclose, and it was never presented by his defense counsel.”
She said OIP wants to know why Fontenot’s alibi, which conceivably could have convinced jurors of his innocence, was never brought up, not even by his defense attorney.
Murphy also brought into question the state’s theory that Haraway had been raped, stabbed, beaten and set on fire.
“When the remains were actually uncovered, the Oklahoma County medical examiner’s office said she died from a single-gunshot wound to the head. Her bones had not been burned. There was no indication of a beating; nothing that established the state’s case.”
Murphy said Tuesday that Fontenot should be freed as soon as “humanly possible.”
Pontotoc County District Attorney Chris Ross, one of the original prosecutors in the case, said he remains convinced Fontenot and a co-defendant (Tommy Ward) were responsible for the woman’s killing.
Fontenot and Ward were tried in September 1985 and found guilty. Both men are serving life sentences.