Courtesy April Monroe Frick/

Assistant A.G. Doesn’t Oppose Evidentiary Hearing in Fairbanks Four Case

Richard Walker

Special Prosecutor Adrienne Bachman does not oppose an evidentiary hearing in the Fairbanks Four case, saying it will be “the defendant’s burden to demonstrate by clear and convincing evidence that they are factually innocent” of the 1997 murder of John Hartman, a Fairbanks teenager.

But in a 23-page review of the case submitted to the Superior Court on May 15, Bachman states that the defendants’ claims of innocence “are based on likely inadmissible evidence;” a prison inmate’s sworn statement that his friend inflicted the fatal injuries is based on hearsay; a potentially corroborating statement is from a witness who is not credible; and proposed updated testimony from two expert witnesses that testified in the 1998 trial “does not qualify as newly discovered evidence” under the law.

Bachman, an assistant state attorney general, was directed by an Alaska Superior Court last fall to review George Frese, Kevin Pease, Marvin Roberts and Eugene Vent’s case after the Alaska Innocence Project obtained a sworn statement from William Holmes, a former Fairbanks man serving life in a California prison for murdering two drug-ring rivals in 2002, providing new details about the assault that led to Hartman’s death.

RELATED: New Hope for the ‘Fairbanks Four’

In his three-page sworn statement, Holmes wrote that on the evening of October 11, 1997, he and four high school friends – not the Fairbanks Four – were driving around town looking for “drunk Natives” to harass when they “saw a white boy walking alone.” Holmes stopped the car, the four friends got out and knocked the boy to the ground. As one of the friends went through the boy’s pockets, another friend, Jason Wallace, repeatedly stomped the boy, Holmes wrote.

RELATED: 7 Questions With Adrienne Bachman, Fairbanks Four Reviewing Prosecutor

When Holmes and Wallace read in the newspaper that the boy, John Hartman, had died later in the hospital, Holmes told all four friends “to tell no one about that night … act like that night never happened.” Bill Oberly of the Alaska Innocence Project said Holmes decided to finally talk about Hartman’s death because he’s a Christian now and a corrections officer in whom he had confided urged him to come forward.

Holmes’ statement is dated August 12, 2012. The Alaska Innocence Project spent nearly a year corroborating Holmes’ confession before asking the Superior Court to consider a new trial. That request, for what is called “post-conviction relief,” was filed September 25, 2013.


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curtj's picture
Submitted by curtj on
Sad isn't it? Colonial justice, one for whites and one for the Indigenous. The Indigenous get up to and over 4 times the sentences as do the non natives. No DNA evidence from the many shoes, pants shirts and jackets seized from the 4 young mens homes, and the brutal kicking murder was done in October with snow on the ground. No blood, muscle tissue or hair was found, even though the crime was violent and DNA evidence would have splattered around and froze to the 4 mens clothing and shoes. A career criminal "snitched" and his 7 year sentence was reduced to 2 years. Another prosecution witness, Arlo Olson, after a day and a half of smoking dope and drinking Wild Turkey, testified he recognized Marvin Roberts beating up another man that same night, Franklin Dayton Jr., from a distance of 2 football fields away on the dark October night, even though Marvin Roberts face would have been as big as a "No See Um" gnat. Marvin Roberts car was described as the get away car, though there was absolutely no DNA evidence on any seats or on the flooring, and the number of doors did not match the prosecution witnesses description or color. Prosecution photos of sneakers were altered so one of the young men's shoes could fit into the marks left on John Hartmans heard. As a former medical provider, I can state that if a person had trauma on their head, blood would have been splattered all over the place, I know I've sewed up many heads. It was never explained that Hartman and his buddy Chris Stone had been kicked out of someones home and they had stolen prescription meds from there shortly before the murder. It was never explained why Hartman was wearing Stones too large pants which were falling down, and the prosecution claimed anal rape, with no evidence, although the ER at the hospital had stuck a thermometer probe up his rectum. There were scores of witnesses for the 4 young men placing them in different parts of Fairbanks at the time of the murder, but they were denied testifying for the defendants, sober witnesses. it was said at one of the trials that "Never trust village people, they'll back each other up no matter what". The non native has obviously never lived in a village where backstabbing is done and families never get along, until there is a tragedy and then everyone pulls together and comfort and help each other through the times of stress, and then go back to backstabbing each other. These 4 men spent 16 1/2 years behind bars, steadfastly maintaining their innocence, if they had confessed, they would have been out of prison already. 3 Caucasians confessed to murdering a African American cab driver brutally beating him and slitting his throat, a month after Hartmans murder and received 15-20 year sentences and are almost out of prison. 4 Indigenous men belonging to federally recognized tribes are in prison for murdering a young Caucasian man and now we find out that since 2011, the City of Fairbanks and the State of Alaska, has had a confession from a African American man and another confession implicating another man as well as 3 others, who had went on to murder at least 3 people after the 4 young Indigenous men were incarcerated. I was at a hearing for one of the young men and the judge appeared to be sleeping through most of the hearing. Prosecution witnesses Arlo Olson and Chris Stone testified that they had lied in their testimony in the previous trials, and then lied about lying. They stated that their testimonies changed every time after jailhouse visits from Fairbanks investigator Aaron Ring and Assistant DA Jeffrey O'Bryant. And still no repercussions. Due to the stead fast refusal to reopen the case, from the City of Fairbanks and the State of Alaska, I believe they are afraid of the tens of millions they are going to have to pay out, to the 4 young Indigenous men and the families of the 3 murdered people after Hartmans murder. The Alaska Indigenous leaders should be uniting to demand a federal investigation with a team from the Lower 48 with no connections to any person or entity involved with the original investigations, prosecutions and convictions. Yet they are silent again since it involves their careers.

Michael Madrid's picture
Michael Madrid
Submitted by Michael Madrid on
I'm almost sure the ACLU would jump at a chance to fight this, simply because of this remark, __________________________- " Special Prosecutor Adrienne Bachman does not oppose an evidentiary hearing in the Fairbanks Four case, saying it will be “the defendant’s burden to demonstrate by clear and convincing evidence that they are factually innocent” of the 1997 murder of John Hartman, a Fairbanks teenager." ___________________________ If I'm not mistaken it's "innocent until proven guilty" and it's the prosecution's job to chip away at that innocence. Maybe I'm wrong: maybe for Indians it's "guilty until proven innocent," and it's the accused's job to prove himself innocent.