Bill Peterson Now: Where Is He Today?

Bill Peterson

Bill Peterson is the retired Pontotoc County District Attorney known for his role in the Debbie Carter and Denice Haraway investigations that serve as the inspiration for Netflix’s The Innocent Man. 

Now retired, Peterson has stayed largely out of the limelight, excluding the rare moments in which he has defended his work as an Ada prosecutor in the Ron Williamson and Dennis Fritz cases, specifically.

Here’s what you need to know:


Peterson Filed a Libel Lawsuit Against John Grisham in 2007, Which Was Dismissed

John Grisham discusses "The Innocent Man"Author John Grisham discusses his book "The Innocent Man" at the Innocence Project's Annual Benefit. The video opens with Exoneree Dennis Fritz dancing with the mother of the murder victim in the case for which he was wrongfully convicted. Music by Jonathan Batiste.2008-05-21T15:51:26.000Z

In 2007, following the publications of John Grisham’s The Innocent Man: Murder and Injustice in a Small Town, Robert Mayer’s Dreams of Ada, and Dennis Fritz’s memoir, Journey Toward Justice,  Peterson filed a joint lawsuit against the two authors, claiming that they were in on a “a massive joint defamatory attack” against the Ada justice system. It further claimed that “the defendants launched this attack through the use of speeches, interviews and simultaneously publishing three books that were all three strategically released in October of 2006.”

In a statement on the lawsuit at the time, Fritz said, It’s nothing more than a power play to get people to believe [Peterson] did nothing wrong. It has no merit. We simply told the truth and I have a right to write what my thoughts were.”

The lawsuit was dismissed at the district court level, and then when Peterson appealed, it was dismissed once more at the United State Court of Appeals, on the Tenth Circuit, in 2010.

You can read the full lawsuit, as well as info on the dismissals, in Peterson v. Grisham here. 


Peterson Published a Website Dedicated to ‘Exposing’ John Grisham’s ‘Lies’

VideoVideo related to bill peterson now: where is he today?2018-12-20T15:30:10-05:00

On Bill Peterson’s official website, he has two tabs titled “The Grisham Letters” and “Exposing the Truth,” though the links are no longer valid. On his “About” page, Peterson writes in part,

“My name is Bill Peterson. Thank you for coming to this website and giving me the opportunity to tell you a little about myself, and Mr. Grisham and his novel… Again I appreciate your interest and hope after reading this website in its entirety, you will have a better understanding of what really happened in the investigation in 1982 into the death of Debbie Carter by the police, hearings and trials that followed and see the bias, spin, and intentional ‘mistakes’ of Mr. Grisham.”

In an interview with The Oklahoman, Peterson defended his decisions at the time of his retirement. “I’ve tried to conduct myself in an honorable way for 27 years,” he said. “I was what I was. I was a prosecutor, a passionate prosecutor. I went after them. I was convinced they killed Debbie Carter. If that was your mother, your sister or your daddy who was killed, you wouldn’t want a pansy prosecutor. You would want someone passionate.”

Of his decision to retire, he said to the Ada Evening News in 2007, “It is something I’ve been thinking about for a while and came to the conclusion that it is time. I am 64 years old and came to the realization it’s time to go to another phase in my life.”

Peterson has not spoken out about the Williamson and Fritz cases since the Netflix show was released.


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