FAIRBANKS — The Fairbanks city mayor supports a federal investigation of the 1997 John Hartman case, according to a Wednesday news release from the Tanana Chiefs Conference.
The Tanana Chiefs Conference has long advocated that the four men jailed for the beating death of 15-year old John Hartman were wrongfully convicted. The four men, Marvin Roberts, Eugene Vent, George Frese and Kevin Pease are known as the “Fairbanks Four” by their supporters.
Fairbanks City Mayor John Eberhart has previously said he was “disapointed” with the city police department for not investigating a 2011 memo from a California prison guard that indicated an alternate suspect in the case, former Fairbanks resident William Holmes. Holmes, who is serving a double life sentence in California for another murder, later made a written statement that four of his classmates fatally beat Hartman.
Eberhart asked for further investigation into the case in a Friday response to a letter from TCC President Victor Joseph. Eberhart said in his letter to Joseph that he supports a federal investigation and that he would discuss an independent review of the Fairbanks Police Department when a new chief is hired, according to the TCC news release.
Eberhart wasn’t available for comment Wednesday, but he confirms that the information about him in the TCC new release is accurate, said city of Fairbanks spokeswoman Amber Courtney.
In addition to being mayor, Eberhart is a former attorney for the TCC, a consortium of Interior Native tribes.
Advocates for the four men are in the process of trying to win their freedom through a civil lawsuit called a petition for post-conviction relief.
Three of the Fairbanks Four are Alaska Native. The case became a statewide issue at last year’s Alaska Federation of Natives Conference, where the body unanimously called for an independent review of the case.
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