Fairbanks Mayor John Eberhart Joins Call for Federal Review of the Fairbanks Four Case

September 3rd, 2014

Contact: Shirley lee
(907)452-8251 ext.

In a letter dated August 27, 2014, Tanana Chiefs Conference (TCC) President Victor Joseph called upon Fairbanks Mayor John Eberhart to join TCC in requesting an independent federal review of the Fairbanks Four case.  President Joseph also called upon Mayor Eberhart to have an “independent review of the case done as it pertains to the actions or inactions of the Fairbanks Police Department (FPD)”. 

 In his letter, President Joseph noted that the case has created distrust with the FPD, especially when it was made public that the FPD, together with the Fairbanks District Attorney’s Office, did nothing with information provided to them in 2011, in which William Holmes confessed to his role in the Hartman murder. 

In a response letter dated August 29, 2014, Mayor Eberhart wrote President Joseph to inform him that his office supported a federal review of the case, in the interest of truth and justice.  Mayor Eberhart also went on to say that he would discuss an independent review of the Fairbanks Police Department once the new chief was hired.

“We are pleased that Mayor Eberhart is joining us in seeking the truth in this tragic case”, President Joseph stated.

TCC has long advocated for an independent review of the case, which are considered to be wrongful convictions of Marvin Roberts, Eugene Vent, George Frese and Kevin Pease.  In October 2013, the delegates to the Alaska Federation of Natives (AFN) unanimously passed a resolution calling for an independent review of the case. That same month, Senator Lisa Murkowski wrote U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder after the AFN convention, informing him of the case and delegate action.  In November 2013, Senator Mark Begich wrote Alaska Governor Sean Parnell, urging him to have his staff conduct a review of the case “thoroughly and swiftly”.  To date, neither Attorney General Holder nor Governor Parnell has responded.

Since the September 2013 filings for post-conviction relief in the men’s cases, there has been a volley of legal briefs between the Alaska Innocence Project and the State of Alaska. TCC Justice Task Force Chair Shirley Lee stated, “The State’s filings and arguments are disappointing given William Holmes’ confession.  This case should be based on the truth and not legal maneuvers designed to suppress the newly discovered evidence from being brought to light.”