Convicting the Innocent
DNA Exonerations Database

Dennis Fritz

First NameDennis
Last NameFritz
Year of Conviction1988
Year of Exoneration1999
Testing inculpated culpritCold Hit
State of ConvictionOklahoma
Trial, Bench Trial, or Guilty PleaTrial
Type of CrimeMurder
Death SentenceNo
Life / LWOP sentenceLife
Gender of ExonereeMale
Race of exonereeWhite
Description / Quotes from Testimony Concerning Defense

● None

Did the defendant testify at trial?Yes
Quotes from Exoneree Testimony

“Q: Dennis, did you kill [the victim]? A: No, I did not. I did not kill [the victim], and I don’t know anything about the death of [the victim] whatsoever. I’ve been locked up over in that county jail for 11 months on circumstantial evidence, and I’m the kind of person that I’ve never taken a life. I’ve never thought about taking a life. I’ve never wanted to rape a woman. I’ve never had any thoughts of this kind of activity in my life.”

Types of evidence at trial
  • Forensic Evidence
  • Informant
Type of Forensic Evidence
  • Hair
  • Serology
Types of Flawed Forensics
  • Invalid
Reason why invalid(1), (5) Masking; hair match testimony
Brief Quote / Description of Testimony

Though lack of blood group substances found could have been due to degradation, or due to masking if the victim was a non-secretor, the analyst testified that only a non-secretor could have been the donor. “Q: Okay. If the victim was a non-secretor, and the donor was a non-secretor, and their body fluids were mixed on the swab, what would you expect to find? A: No antigen activity.” See Part II.A.1 for a description of the problem of masking and non-quantification and discussion of similar cases.The analyst testified that a total of 11 pubic hairs and 2 head hairs were “consistent” with Fritz’s hairs. “There’s generally three main results can be considered, but there’s actually five or more ways of reporting hair examinations. One is that hairs are consistent microscopically and could have the same source. This means that they match if you want it in one word.” The analyst testified that there was an increased significance to finding that both pubic hairs and head hairs matched.

Jailhouse informant, Co-defendant, Incentivized WitnessCD, J
Examples of Non-Public or Corroborated Facts and Inconsistencies● Non-public facts including jailhouse informant testifying he had confessed, and that he and co-defendant cleaned away blood, and beer cans, explaining lack of forensic evidence. ● On co-defendant Ron Williamson’s reported false confession, which also included non-public details, see False Confessions Appendix.
Quotes from testimony #3

“I looked at him, and you could see tears coming down his eyes, and he said we didn’t mean to hurt her. We didn’t mean to hurt her. He goes, what do you think my daughter would think of me as a murderer.” And he testified that defendant described “him and Ron washing blood” from the murder scene. He denied that the officer disclosed any case details – “No, he didn’t tell me nothing about the case”

Quotes regarding any deal or leniency with informant, or prior use of informant

Jailhouse informant was charged with second decree burglary and knowingly concealing stolen property, and was sentenced to 2 years and 3 years, with a suspended sentence. Informant denied any deal and testified, “most of the time you’ll be labeled as a snitch, and they’ll give you a hard time. And most of the time, they try to make punks out of you down there… They try to turn you into a homosexual and try to rape you or something just because you testified for the State.”

Highest level reachedFederalHabeas
Claims Raised During All Appeals and Postconviction
  • Brady
  • Cumulative Error
  • Ineffective Assistance of Appellate Counsel
  • Ineffective Assistance of Counsel
  • Jackson Claim
  • Jury Instructions
  • Jury Selection
  • Prosecutorial Misconduct
  • Sentencing — Noncapital
  • State Law Evidence Claim
Harmless Error Rulings
  • G
  • HE
  • NP
Citations to judicial opinions

Fritz v. State, 811 P.2d 1353 (Okla. Crim. App. 1991)
Fritz v. Champion, 66 F.3d 338 (10th Cir. 1995)
Fritz v. Champion, 519 U.S. 1119 (1997)

Read more about this exoneration