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FIGHT FOR FREEDOM
Dennis Fritz was an ordinary man living an ordinary life in Ada, Oklahoma. A school teacher, whose wife was brutally murdered in 1975, Dennis was raising his young daughter on his own. On one night in 1987, when a young woman named Debra Carter was raped and murdered, Fritz’s ordinary life came crashing down. Though he had never met Carter, Fritz was questioned, and then arrested for the crime. Fritz was wrongfully convicted after a swift trial. The vote of a lone juror saved him from the death penalty and he was sentenced to a life behind bars. His codefendant, Ronnie Williamson, was sentenced to death.
Fritz served 12 years in prison before he was exonerated and released. During his time in prison, Fritz immersed himself in an intense study of the law and wrote hundreds of letters and appellate briefs in his own defense, hoping someone would take an interest in his case. After ten desperate years, he discovered an organization called, Innocence Project, which was helpful in getting the DNA testing needed that proved Fritz was innocent. On April 15, 1999, after twelve years in prison, both Fritz an his codefendant were free men.
Though a free man, much of his life had been taken from him. He realized just how much he had missed when he walked out of his jail cell and met his daughter, whom he barely recognized. “As I turned to enter, I saw a beautiful young woman standing in front of me. In a split second, I realized that this radiant woman with the beautiful smile was Elizabeth. My blessed mother was standing by her side. An uncontrollable feeling welled up in my chest and I began to cry. In that very same visiting room years earlier I had last seen Elizabeth as a young girl.”
USING GOD’S STRENGTH IN SUFFERING
Though he spent 12 years in prison, Fritz says he never once was bitter to or blamed the Lord. “I always looked at it, if anything, as it was Satan that had put me in this situation,” he says. Fritz, who had accepted the Lord and was baptized at age eight, journeyed with Christ through his life, but says it was his time in prison that brought him closer to God. It was during that time that Fritz had to rely solely on faith in God to make it through. He says he didn’t allow himself to ask God “why” too many times. Instead he trusted the Lord. He says he witnessed miracles in prison, and actually heard God’s voice telling him, “Trust me.” So that is what he did. He was patient, and worked diligently seeking his freedom, but waited for God’s time and never gave up. “If it was up to man, I would still be in there,” Fritz says. Fortunately for him, it was God who was in control.
TAKING BACK HIS LIFE
Now in his book, Journey Toward Justice, Fritz tells his horrifying story. The book is a chilling illustration of how one prosecutor’s reckless pursuit of justice shattered a man’s life. Journey Toward Justice is a testimony to the triumph of the human spirit and how one man’s faith and resolve, along with the wonder of technology, helped transform his life again.
Fritz said in an article for The Tulsa World, “I gave the Lord all the credit for this. That was my mission from the start with this book—to let everyone know that it was the Lord who pulled me through this. He helped keep me more or less emotionally stable during my time in prison, even those times when I felt like I was hanging on the last thread of a rope.” Fritz says he wants to use his book to glorify God as well as bring greater awareness about false convictions.
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