FAIRBANKS—Tanana Chiefs Conference has blasted the state's response to new developments in the so-called Fairbanks Four murder case while renewing its call for an independent federal review of the case.
A state prosecutor charged with reviewing new evidence in the 1997 murder of 15-year-old John Hartman said in court filings last week that three juries in the case were right to convict the men. Four men — Marvin Roberts, George Frese, Kevin Pease and Eugene Vent — are in prison for the murder.
The state response was to a filing by the Alaska Innocence Project for post-conviction relief following a reported confession to the murder by California inmate William Z. Holmes. Holmes said he and four friends from Lathrop High School committed the murder after spotting Hartman while cruising in Fairbanks.
Special Prosecutor Adrienne Bachman stated in her filing that Holmes' confession is "hearsay" in the case, a characterization that TCC President Victor Joseph called disgraceful.
"The state continues to assert rightful conviction of the Fairbanks Four in the face of questionable arrest, interrogation and prosecution work," Joseph stated in a news release. "They maintained that assertion even when provided a confession by William Holmes in 2011 and did not have the moral decency or professional integrity to act upon that information."
"It is disappointing, but expected," Joseph stated. "You cannot have an entity investigate itself and expect another outcome."
The Alaska Federation of Natives and the TCC Board of Directors have passed resolutions calling for an independent federal review of the case. TCC reiterated that call on Monday.
"TCC believes this case has reached a juncture where it is clear that justice will have to come from outside of the state system," the news release stated.
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