Fontenot was convicted and sentenced to life in prison for the 1984 kidnapping and killing of Donna Denice Haraway, a convenience store clerk in Ada, Oklahoma. But a federal judge ordered his release in August, writing that newly discovered evidence provides "solid proof of Mr. Fontenot's probable innocence." The state is appealing the judge's ruling, but a federal appeals panel ruled Fontenot could be released in the meantime.
The convictions of Fontenot and a co-defendant, Thomas Ward, have come under intense scrutiny for years and have been the subject of numerous books, including the bestselling book “The Innocent Man" by John Grisham. It was later made into a six-part documentary series recently released on Netflix.
Ward remains imprisoned while his appeal is proceeding separately in state court.