Netflix’s New True Crime Docuseries: ‘The Innocent Man’ Review

Clay Tweel

Director Clay Tweel | Mike Windle/Getty Images for SXSW

Netflix has long been known as the go-to service to get if you are wanting to watch an entire television series in one sitting. With their wide range of shows and movies, there is always something for everyone to watch. And, if you happen to be a fan of true crime documentaries, then Netflix is definitely the service provider you need. There are several different true crime documentaries to choose from this year, which is great news for all of us that like to fight for justice from the comfort of our couch.

When Making a Murderer quickly grew in popularity, Netflix knew that they needed to add more of these types of shows to their lineup. One of the newest true crime series that Netflix has released is called The Innocent Man. At first, it may seem as if it has certain similarities to Making a Murderer, but after you have watched the first episode, you quickly see that it is also vastly different.

So, is this new series good enough to cancel your weekend plans and set on the couch with your favorite pint of ice cream while you immerse yourself into the world of true crime?  To help you decide, here is our honest review of Netflix’s newest true crime docuseries, The Innocent Man.

Bringing books to life

This documentary is based on John Grisham’s only non-fiction book, The Innocent Man: Murder and Injustice in a Small Town. The documentary retells Grisham’s accounts of two separate murder cases that took place in Ada, Oklahoma during the 1980s. When the book was first published in 2006, it did not take long for it to make its way to the number one slot on the New York Times Best Seller list. Once director, Clay Tweel, had read the book, he knew that this was a story that had to be shared with the masses. He then turned the best-selling book into a six-part documentary.

A tale of sorrow

While the title may say The Innocent ‘Man,’  it is actually a story about four different men that have presumably been wrongfully accused of a crime that they claim they did not commit. Debbie Carter and Denice Haraway were both brutally murdered in Ada, Oklahoma. These two murders took place in two different years, and at first, do not seem to have any connection with each other.

The docu-series gives the viewers an up-close look at both of these women’s lives and families. It allows us to really get a better understanding of just what kind of an impact a cruel and callous crime can truly have on the victim’s friends and loved ones.

More to the story

Although we do get an in-depth look at the crime from the victim’s point of view, we also see that there may be more victims than just the two women that had been murdered. The Innocent Man uncovers some compelling evidence that suggests that there has been a grave miscarriage of justice when it came to convicting the four men that were accused of the murders.

Once the documentary starts to dig into the investigation of this case, we start to really see how these two cases are connected. It is not just the fact that they both happened in the same town, but also, the way that the investigation was handled in both of these cases. The prosecutors and investigator’s method of finding the truth can sometimes be viewed as unprofessional, if not completely illegal.

Four men with one wish

Ron Williamson and Dennis Fritz were both charged with murder in the Debbie Carter case. Ron Williamson was sentenced to death and actually spent 12 years on death row. At one point, he had actually come within 5 days of being executed before the courts had issued a “stay” on his execution. With both of these men, we get to take a look at the evidence from all sides and see what new evidence had surfaced that finally led them to be exonerated in 1999.

Tommy Ward and Karl Fontenot were convicted in connection with Denice Haraway’s murder. These two men have a different uphill battle to fight, as they are still currently in prison for the crime that they claim they had nothing to do with. With this case, viewers are invited to watch interviews, hear eye-witness accounts of the day Denice was murdered, and listen to what both the prosecutors and defense teams have to say about this case. With all of the information neatly laid out, we are then able to decide for ourselves what we think may have happened on the night of Denice Haraway’s murder.

A fight for justice

The Innocent Man is a compelling and gut-wrenching docuseries that makes you question everything you know about the justice system. It also allows you to get an honest insight into the lives of everyone involved and see just how many lives can be destroyed and altered due to one crime.