Between the Covers: Stories from My Bookcase

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

The Dreams of Ada by Robert Mayer


It was three years ago when I first learned of the names Tommy Ward and Karl Fontenot. Three years ago when I read John Grisham’s The Innocent Man. The Dreams of Ada by Robert Mayer is one of the books referenced by Grisham in his research for that book.

The two books are so similar I had a difficult time separating one from the other. As I read The Dreams of Ada last month, I kept trying to recall details of the other case.

The Dreams of Ada is about the case against Tommy Ward and Karl Fontenot, pertaining to the disappearance of convenience store clerk Denise Haraway. The two young men were arrested and tried six months after the disappearance, after they allegedly confessed to the crime. As far was Tommy Ward was concerned though, he was merely telling the police about the dream/s he had after police questioned him the first time around.

Ada is a very small town, so pretty much everyone knows everyone else. When the disappearance happened and there was no clue as to who may have taken the young woman, the town was in an outrage. They were thirsty for blood, hungry for justice. When news of a confession came out, the two boys were automatically judged guilty. And because they were the filth of the town, no one cared about them when they said the confessions weren’t true.

What happened to these boys was also the product of law enforcement personnel so eager to make a show of delivering justice. They were so bent on finding the perpetrators, they cared little about how it had been done.

I still find it very hard to believe that they were convicted twice, despite the absence of physical evidence. Despite the presence of witnesses corroborating their alibi Despite of the presence of reasonable doubt.

As I understand it, the two are now free. But not after spending half of their lives (over 22 years) in prison. What life did they still have to go back to?

Tommy Ward, in a way, was better off for having a family who had supported him all the way throughout the years of injustice he suffered. Karl Fontenot had not. Karl, seemed willing to stay in prison despite his innocence because he had guaranteed food and shelter. That was more sad.

Here in the country, there is still an ongoing fight to free Paco Larranaga, one of the young men convicted for the rape/slay of the Chiong sisters in Cebu. There’s a documentary film released about his story, I hope to get to watch it some time. Months ago, Hubert Webb and his co-accused for the Vizconde Massacre were finally released after being in prison for over 15 years. When they were convicted, they were just starting their lives. Now, they are old enough to already have high school kids themselves.

This type of injustice happened in America, it is with no doubt, happening everywhere. There must be something that can be done to prevent it from happening. We need to be able to trust the justice system.

On a completely different matter…

I attended our company Christmas party the other night, the first time I did in three years. After the party, we went searching for food and it brought us to Makati’s red light district – P. Burgos. It’s like a totally different world there all the flashing lights that are permanently there and not just Christmas décor. Haha. It’s a very short, but very bright strip. Made me want to go out and find custom banners made just to decorate the outside of this compound. Haha. Why not? Smile