Oklahoma Innocence Project Wants Convicted Killer Exonerated

Wednesday, July 24th 2013, 6:45 pm
By: News 9

A group of attorneys and OCU law students are shedding new light on a 1984 murder.

They say the man serving a life sentence for the murder was wrongfully convicted. Those with the Innocence Project filed an application on Wednesday for post-conviction relief on behalf of Karl Fontenot.

Fontenot was convicted in the murder, robbery and kidnapping of Donna Denice Haraway in Ada. Those with the project say they have evidence to prove the wrong man has been behind bars for decades.

Karl Fontenot was convicted in the murder of Donna Denice Haraway; a murder he says he didn't commit. Haraway vanished from McAnally's convenience store in Ada in April 1984.

An informant told police the name of a suspect, Tommy Ward. Ward told police about a dream he had where he, his friend Karl Fontenot and a third man were involved in Haraway's disappearance and death.

Police ruled out the third man, but arrested Ward and Fontenot.

The Innocence Project at OCU School law started investigating Fontenot's case last year.

"During the course of our investigation, we uncovered numerous suspects in the case, many of whom were police's initial suspects, and we're not quite clear why they stopped pursuing those suspects," Oklahoma Innocence Project Director Tiffany Murphy said.

The project says Karl had an alibi that witnesses have now confirmed. He said he was at a party, but that was never presented in his trial. The project says new evidence proves Haraway was being stalked before her disappearance.

"Her family and friends presented numerous reports to police of her being harassed with obscene phone calls with people coming in the store to bother her. She was concerned to the point where she was pursuing buying a gun. This was a woman who was afraid of someone she potentially knew," Murphy said.

The project says there's no evidence that Fontenot and Haraway knew each other. They also claim police and prosecutors withheld over 800 pages of records from Fontenot's attorneys.

Fontenot is serving life in prison without the possibility of parole. The Innocence Project filed its petition in Pontotoc County District Court. The state has 30 days to respond.