WHEREAS, on a dark night on October 17, 1997, a young John Hartman was brutally beaten and left on a snow-covered street in Fairbanks, Alaska, and died soon afterward; and
WHEREAS, investigators quickly zeroed in on Marvin Roberts, Eugene Vent, George Frese and Kevin Pease as suspects; and
WHEREAS, although the young Native men protested their innocence, and were interrogated by faulty and now unused interrogation techniques, which elicited false confessions, the police department refused to investigate other leads; and
WHEREAS, many witnesses for the Fairbanks Four provided statements testifying that the members of the Fairbanks Four were physically with them at the time of John Hartman’s brutal beating that lead to his death; and
WHEREAS, it is a fact that investigators threatened some witnesses with arrest for writing statements on behalf of the Fairbanks Four; and
WHEREAS, Aaron Ring visited prosecution witness Arlo Olson to coerce his testimony, and Arlo Olson later testified that he was coerced into his false testimony; and
WHEREAS, as a result of the failure to investigate other suspects in the John Hartman murder, and despite their flawed handling of the case and subsequent flawed trials, the Fairbanks Four were sentenced to lengthy prison terms for a crime they did not commit; and
WHEREAS, William Holmes confessed that he and others, including Jason Wallace, had went out looking for Natives to beat up, came upon John Hartman and brutally beat him; and
WHEREAS, William Holmes made this confession in 2012, which was furnished to both the Fairbanks Police Department and the State of Alaska District Attorney’s Office, and both offices failed to pursue this information further; and
WHEREAS, two classmates of Jason Wallace heard him state that he had taken part in the murder of John Hartman, and testified to this in court; and
WHEREAS, while the Fairbanks Four were unlawfully prosecuted and imprisoned for the murder of John Hartman, William Holmes, Jason Wallace and their associates went on to murder numerous other people, who would be alive if not for the racist and unethical actions of investigators; and
WHEREAS, wrongful convictions of persons of color occur on a regular basis and in order to change the police and judicial systems that lead to those wrongful convictions, people must be held accountable, systems must be held accountable.
NOW THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that the Tanana Chiefs Conference Full Board of Directors urge all national and statewide Native organizations and the Alaskan Federation of Natives to assist the Fairbanks Four to receive just compensation for their wrongful convictions.
Submitted by: Tanana Tribal Council
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