Court Extends Temporary Stay 1 Day Before Tommy Ward's Expected Release


Friday, January 8th 2021, 8:32 am
By: Tess Maune


An Oklahoma man at the center of the 2018 Netflix series "The Innocent Man' will stay in prison despite a judge's order for his release.

Tommy Ward has been in prison for 35 years and was supposed to be released today after a judge dismissed Ward's murder conviction. But one day before Ward’s release, a temporary stay, requested by the Oklahoma State Attorney General back in December, was been extended.

Ward and a co-defendant, Karl Fontenot, were convicted and sentenced to life in prison for the kidnapping and killing of Donna Denice Haraway in 1984, an Ada convenience store clerk.

In December, a judge threw out Ward's murder conviction citing several issues with the case, including a false confession.

His family thought he'd be released then, but the Court of Criminal Appeals issued the temporary stay to keep him in prison.

We spoke with his brother back in December right after the court's ruling.

"Doesn't seem right, he's been in there for 35 years for something he didn't do," Melvin Ward said. "We thought he was going to get out one day, and the door just slams back in your face."

The court extended the stay until February 16, so Ward will now stay in prison until at least then.

As for Karl Fontenot, a judge threw out his case and he was released in 2019. The state is also appealing that order.