Payne gave the state 120 days to grant Fontenot a new trial or release him permanently. Fontenot's case was the focus of the John Grisham book "The Innocent Man" and a later Netflix documentary series by the same name.
In Payne's opinion filed Wednesday, he found that Fontenot's mental illnesses raised serious questions about the validity of his uncorroborated confession. Fontenot's account of what happened came from a dream he says he had about the killing.
An Oklahoma attorney general spokesman says the judge's order is still being reviewed.