A libel suit by former Pontotoc County District Attorney Bill Peterson against author John Grisham was dismissed in federal appeals court in Denver Monday.

The suit also included allegations against Dennis Fritz who was convicted of a heinous murder, along with Ron Williamson, until DNA two decades after the fact was proved not to match crime scene evidence. Both Grisham and Fritz wrote books about the case which presented information Peterson said was libelous.

The Tulsa World reports that 10th U.S. Circuit Judge Carlos Lucero said the fact public officials were plaintiffs in the case made the burden of proof more difficult.

“Given that plaintiffs are public officials, they face an especially heavy burden in attempting to demonstrate libel,” The Tulsa World reports the judge as writing.

Contacted locally by the Ada Evening News, Peterson said he is disappointed in the decision but realized the difficulty of presenting his side of the story to the court.

“I’ve said all along that it would be an uphill battle to overcome the public official position. It’s virtually impossible. (My attorney) thought we could do it, but that turned out not to be right,” Peterson said.

Peterson said he regrets Fritz and Williamson’s convictions.

“I felt horrible at the time and I still feel bad about it,” he said. “I did the job the best I could based on what was presented to us by law enforcement. No one did anything wrong. You do the best you can with what you’ve got. No system is perfect, but this is still the best system there is.”

Peterson said it isn’t likely he will pursue the case any further.

“That’s the 10 Circuit. It’s very difficult to get a case to the Supreme Court,” he said.

According to the Tulsa World, the plaintiffs’ allegations that the defendants’ attack against them was motivated by efforts to abolish the death penalty were not germane to their claim of libel.

Fritz received a life sentence in the case, Williamson the death penalty. DNA testing in 1999 on semen collected at the scene matched Glen Gore, who originally fingered Fritz and Williamson under oath.

Gore is currently serving a life sentence without parole.

Joining Peterson in the suit were Gary Rogers, former police officer and Melvin Hett, former state criminologist.

This is the second time the suit has been dismissed. The suit was originally filed in U.S. District Court in Muskogee in September 2007 but was thrown out.

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