In the State of Alaska response to the September 2013 filing asserting innocence of the Fairbanks Four, two issues are of central focus: credibility and hearsay.
Indeed, hearsay and witnesses with questionable credibility are central to the state’s case. Without purchased testimony and hearsay, there would never have been a case against the Fairbanks Four at all. The State of Alaska claimed in their filing that the principle witnesses put forth by the Innocence Project were not credible primarily because both men had criminal histories. The state further argues that the men did not come forward at times when they could have potentially negotiated for leniency in their own crimes, putting forth the theory that the testimony of an individual is more credible if the individual has been bribed with an offer of reduced sentences or charges in their own crimes. The argument flies in the face of common sense and begs the question – who exactly does the State of Alaska find credible? Below is one example of the kind of individual who provided testimony against the Fairbanks Four in the trials that led to their wrongful conviction. This, ladies and gentlemen, is an example of a person deemed reliable in the eyes of the State.
credibility. noun. the quality or power of inspiring belief
In early 1998 Joshua Bradshaw was in jail on charges of felony child sexual abuse. He was accused of raping a five year old child. Following contact with the Fairbanks Police Department, Bradshaw testified at trial that he heard Eugene Vent say “[w]e didn’t mean to kick John Hartman to death.”
If a formal and written plea agreement was made between the State of Alaska, not disclosing that agreement would be a violation of the Fairbanks Four’s constitutional right to a fair trial. Such an agreement has never surfaced. Such an agreement would have been created and kept within the Fairbanks Police Department or District Attorney’s office, whose ability to take appropriate action with documentation related to this case recently came under fire when it was revealed that they had failed to disclose an murder confession from William Holmes received in 2011.
By way of explaining the murder confession that never made its way into the record, FPD Detective Nolan gracefully explained that he should have investigated it but, “basically, uh, never completed it.” If an agreement for leniency existed for Bradshaw or others, perhaps they meant to disclose it and, basically, uh, didn’t.
Despite there being no record of an agreement for Bradshaw to receive leniency in exchange for his testimony, the judge who ruled in his case found that he had indeed penetrated a child. He was sentenced to seven years, with all but just over two years suspended. The judge gave only one explanation for the extraordinary sentence – “assisting authorities.”
According to a reliable source who spoke on the condition of anonymity, Bradshaw had experienced severe mental health issues since early childhood and was placed in a program for emotionally disturbed children during his primary school years. His behaviors included pathological lying, violence, fecal smearing, and inappropriate sexual behaviors.
With that in mind, consider the following:
The most serious and chronic offenders often show signs of antisocial behavior as early as elementary school years.
– American Psychiatric Association, 1994; was in Juvenile Justice Bulletin: Nov 1998 OJJDP: U.S. Department of Justice
The behavior is highly repetitive, to the point of compulsion, rather than resulting from a lack of judgment.
– Dr. Ann Burges, Dr. Nicholas Groth, et al. in a study of imprisoned offenders
Like rape, child molestation is one of the most underreported crimes: only 1-10% are ever disclosed.
– FBI Law Enforcement Bulletin
Given the extreme nature of the charges Bradshaw faced, coupled with the fact that he possessed so many of the characteristics that indicate a high probability of recidivism, it would have been reasonable to expect that Joshua Bradshaw would re-offend. Child sexual abuse is under-reported and it is statistically likely that in the years that Bradshaw SHOULD have spent in prison that he may have victimized more children and further likely that the crime would remain unknown and not of record. Certainly he received leniency. If his testimony was purchased with an offer of leniency, the price may have indeed been much higher for any child he victimized during that time. Whether or not he did victimize another young child during the years of freedom granted for “assisting authorities,” certainly anyone involved with negotiating or encouraging that leniency would have known that another offense was likely. He was eventually convicted of attempted murder in 2006 for shooting a man in the head after the victim’s friend stole an ounce of marijuana from Bradshaw.
Did the State of Alaska release a man who raped a five year old child back into our community to aid in the prosecution and imprisonment of innocent men?
Did Bradshaw inspire your belief?
Is the State of Alaska credible?