New evidence supports allegations that the Fairbanks Four were falsely convicted of the 1997 murder of John Hartman. The Alaska Innocence Project filed petitions in September 2013 to exonerate George Frese, Kevin Pease, Marvin Roberts, and Eugene Vent - the Fairbanks Four - based on this new evidence. The State of Alaska was given six months to conduct an investigation of the new evidence and perform a thorough review of the entire case.
The State of Alaska has a vested financial interest in upholding the guilty verdicts of the Fairbanks Four, as numerous lawsuits against law enforcement and the court system would result if these men were to be found innocent. This vested interest compromises the State of Alaska's ability to conduct a fair and impartial review of the new evidence.
Sixteen years after the murder of John Hartman, who was white, the guilt or innocence of the four men incarcerated for this crime, who are Native American, remains highly controversial. If the State of Alaska again finds these men guilty, many will legitimately suspect a cover-up by the State, and this murder case will remain controversial and unresolved in the minds and hearts of many Alaskans.
The controversy surrounding John Hartman's murder can only be resolved if a third, neutral party conducts the investigation of the new evidence that exonerates the Fairbanks Four. The State of Alaska, by mere virtue of investigating itself, cannot be neutral in this investigation, and therefore should not conduct it.
The people who sign this petition respectfully request that the federal Department of Justice conduct the investigation of the new evidence in the John Hartman murder.