Last Day – Court Proceedings in Fairbanks Four Trial End

The end of proceedings in the evidentiary hearing for post conviction relief is not the end of the road for the Fairbanks Four case. But it is the end of a significant portion of a long legal process, and the right day to look back on the long stretch of road already traveled and remember those who blazed the trail, who cleared the way, who walked the darkest and scariest parts, who joined in when it was the loneliest, and made the journey against all odds.

The judge could exonerate and free these men. The judge could order a new trial. The judge could uphold the convictions. Meeting the standard of clear and convincing evidence is one of the most complex and difficult legal feats in the field, and the judge could determine that it was not met. That is possible. Whatever the judge decides, it could be tomorrow, or it could be in six months. And the first thing we will have to say on that day, and the only thing we want to say today, is thank you.

Thank you to Shirley Demientieff, who stood up for the innocence of four young no-name boys when it was a position that invited scorn and ridicule. Thank you to a woman who would hold a one-person protest. Thank you to Shirley Dementieff who, on her death bed, made a request to another woman she trusted absolutely with the difficult task – please keep fighting this fight for me when I am gone.

shirleyleeThank you to Shirley Lee. The late Shirley Demientieff was right when she looked at you and saw the rare strength and bravery it would take. Thank you for keeping your promises. Thank you for picking up that sign and continuing to fight.

Thank you to the people of Evansville/ Bettles, who do not let one of your own stand alone like a crazy person with a sign. Thank you for standing behind Shirley the very moment she got up. Thank you for always believing in each other. Those of us lucky enough to know we never stand alone are lucky indeed.

 

Thank you to Father Scott, Saint Matthew’s Episcopal church, and the Episcopal Diocese for remembering the moral of the story, not just the words.

Thank you to the mothers. Thank you Hazel Roberts, Carol Pease, Ida Vent, Veronica Frese, Mona Nollner. Mothers never stop fighting for their children. It is never too long, they are never too tired, and the way that mothers love their children is one of the most beautiful things in the world. And thank you for fighting for Kevin like he was your own son when Carol Pease was called away from this life.

fairbanksfourcrewThank you to the people who were brave enough to stand up and demand to be heard. Who risked their jobs, reputations, took time from their families, money from their pockets, risked their businesses, risked their safety, and stood up for the truth in a climate of deceit without regard to the cost or reward Thank you Misty Nickoli, Edgar Henry, Ricko DeWilde, Annette McCotter, Skye Malemute, Jody Hassel, Bryan Duszynski. There is something to be said for people who will do the right thing when it is hard and unpopular. For people who will stand there until they are seen or speak up until they are heard. Without you nothing changes.

BillFilingThank you Bill Oberly of the Alaska Innocence Project. I am not sure we could find the right words to express the gratitude we feel toward you. When we reach the end of this journey, this specific journey toward justice and the end of our personal journeys, your decision to step forward and advocate for the forgotten innocent will be one of the most memorable moments we have ever encountered. It is one thing to fight for a brother, son, or friend. It is another thing entirely to take up the plight of strangers. It was your voice and yours alone inside the legal community that cried out for justice, and it was your voice that others joined.

To the entire legal team from Dorsey and Whitney – Bob Bundy, Kate Demarest, Jahna Lindemuth, Mike Grisham, and Office of Public Advocacy attorneys Whitney Glover and Rick Allen, thank you. You put on an extraordinarily passionate, articulate, painstakingly organized, well-executed case. Imagine if you can what it feels like to watch people with power take what they want, in this case human lives, people’s children. Imagine how utterly abandoned and betrayed so many people, most of them kids, felt in 1997. Like they were invisible. Like a bad dream when you scream and scream but no one can hear you. And then you saw them, you heard them, and you rose up against a injustice that long seemed insurmountable, and you prevailed. And that is an important word, because you need to know that we already believe you won.

Thank you Bill Holmes. We hope you can find redemption for the many bad things you have done, and we are grateful that you told the truth. We hope it is the first step of many toward a more righteous life.

Thank you Scott Davison. Your bravery is humbling, your honesty against the odds is admirable.

Thank you Matt Ellsworth. We were really rooting for you to speak the truth, and are glad you did.

Thank you Tom Bole. You followed a higher code than any technicality of man.

Thank you Lisa Smith and Angie Black. We know how much work the paralegals do!

Thank you Troopers Gallen and McPherron. You served and protected the people of Alaska in the courtroom with your loyalty to justice and the truth.

Thank you to everyone who spoke up and told the truth.

Thank you Aaron ring, Jeff O’Bryant, Adrienne Bachman, Jason Gazewood, Jim Geier, and Jason Wallace. Your actions against justice have reminded us how truly valuable it is, and have inspired many to fight for it.

The courtroom at 101 Lacey Street in Fairbanks, Alaska is only a building. Stone and wood, metal and mortar, built by people, and only as permanent as its makers, which isn’t very. Sometimes there is no justice in a court of man. We cannot know what the decision of the court will be, we can only know that there is a higher order to the universe, and that the words and decisions that come from that building are ever the words and decisions of mortal men. Justice prevails in the end, and our job is simply to do our best and understand that it will come in its time.

For today we will not dwell on the past or the future, but will celebrate the day and those who brought it about. Today, parties rested their case in the first petition for post-conviction relief based on actual innocence to result in a evidentiary hearing in Alaska’s history. That is progress, and above all else, we are thankful to those who brought it about.

State of Alaska Conspires With Serial Killer. Gross.

Wallace, JasonJason Wallace is the man whom a litany of witnesses have testified in the last weeks is actually responsible for the brutal 1997 stomping death of fifteen-year-old Jonathan Hartman. Many, including fellow killer and crime partner William Holmes, along with Wallace’s own public defender, and the Alaska State Troopers who investigated the case following accusations of wrongful conviction, have fingered Jason Wallace as the aggressor in the unprovoked fatal assault that left one child dead and a community in an uproar. Four other men, known as the Fairbanks Four, have spent the last eighteen years in prison for the crime. The four have maintained their innocence even in the face of plea deals and offers of parole, and with the help of the Alaska Innocence Project were able to begin an extremely robust case a few weeks ago arguing for their innocence and the guilt of another group of men. Jason Wallace testified during the 19th and 20th day of proceedings.

Despite the incredible evidence of their innocence, and in the face of incredible public outcry, the State of Alaska continues to fight to uphold the convictions at all costs. In the most controversial and despicable strategic move yet the State of Alaska granted immunity to Jason Wallace in exchange for his testimony. Unlike William Holmes, who was given a lie detector to prove he was telling the truth about killing Hartman (which he of course passed) or Marvin Roberts who was given a lie detector to prove he as telling the truth about his innocence (which he of course passed), Wallace was not given a lie detector test, not one witness corroborated his testimony, and there has been no indication that the truth was ever something the State of Alaska wanted from Wallace. Instead, Wallace was brought in to lie, and lie he did. Even the immunity deal itself demonstrates that the State of Alaska knows Wallace killed Hartman. An innocent man would not need immunity against prosecution of a murder in order to discuss it. Without the immunity, Wallace previously plead the 5th, and refused to answer questions

We predicted Wallace’s testimony and the circumstances that led up to it the day we learned he would testify. It is getting wearisome to be right about such terrible things. Wallace did exactly what we predicted he would do, but with less skill than we feared, and more show-boating of his deranged mind than we expected.

Jason Wallace sauntered into the courtroom in a gray suit, a purple button-up shirt, and a garish bow tie, in an immediate contrast in demeanor and appearance to the Fairbanks Four, who were not allowed to wear street clothes from the jail but arrived in prison uniforms and changed into modest white shirts immediately before their testimony. It was clear from the moment he entered the court room that Wallace was enjoying the perks of being a state witness.

Wallace took the stand, and special prosecutor Adrienne Bachman, who stated that she had “no idea” what Wallace would testify and denied all accusations of having negotiated his testimony and immunity below board, opened Wallace’s questioning with an affected speech on the importance of telling the truth.

“You have nothing to lose here unless you provide false testimony. Those are the rules. If you provide false testimony you can be prosecuted for the false testimony,” she said.

Wallace smiled, looked back at her, and said “Okay.”

Wallace had plenty reasons to smile. His testimony guaranteed he would never be prosecuted for killing John Hartman, despite nearly a dozen witnesses whose testimony implicated him in the crime, including one fellow participant and four individuals he is reported to have independently confessed to. And the chances of the same entity that granted him immunity for his lies attacking him for those lies is slim at best, and Wallace knew all of that as he took the stand smiling. Wallace was in comfortable territory.

The convicted killer in the fancy suit and bow tie brought with him into the courtroom a long history of manipulating the system for personal gain – to achieve immunity, intimidate those around him, and a criminal history so disturbing but clinically predictable that any armchair psychologist could diagnose him as psychopathic.

psychopath1Psychopaths have defective emotional ranges – they do not experience normal levels of guilt, shame, or fear. They also do not attach to or relate to other human beings in a normal fashion. Psychopaths experience very transitory and self-serving attachments and tend to look at human beings as objects and therefore can engage in extreme violence without emotional upset and in fact may enjoy such acts. Research consistently demonstrates that psychopaths are often participants in instrumental (calculated) violence as opposed to impulsive violence, and are far more likely than a typical offender to re-offend, and contrary to popular belief psychopaths are very likely to participate in group violence – typically as ringleaders. Participation in group violence allows psychopaths to defer blame, and provides another set of ready victims, as psychopaths enjoy exercising control. Psychopaths are sophisticated manipulators. Jason Wallace’s entire biography and criminal history indicates that he is a psychopath, and indeed his contrived testimony, odd demeanor, and apparent enjoyment of the process further indicate that he is indeed a psychopath and that the State of Alaska has very willingly made him a partner in an effort to commit the continued crime of wrongful imprisonment of the Fairbanks Four.

Wallace took the stand and proceeded to deny knowing anyone who testified against him and knowing anything about the Hartman murder. According to Wallace, he did not know any of the people who testified against or about him. He claimed he did not know and had never heard of Scott Davison or Matt Ellsworth, and even denied knowing his own attorney investigator. Wallace did not admit a relationship to anyone identified from his past against him besides his former co-defendant William Holmes. Wallace testified that he had never heard of the Hartman murder despite it being one of the highest profiles crimes in the community he lived in, until he was accused of it some two years ago. Wallace insisted that every witness who implicated him was lying and that he alone was telling the truth.

The good news about the Wallace testimony is that Wallace did not tell clever lies. His testimony was so dishonest that it was more a study in the psychology of a depraved killer and an equally sick justice system than it was information relevant to proceedings.

Under cross-examination by Robert Bundy, probono attorney with international firm Dorsey and Whitney, Wallace was defiant, and consistently threw out ten-dollar words confidently but with absolute disregard to their meaning. He reiterated that he was a witness for the state because he “cannot walk up here upon my volition.” When the petitioner’s attorneys brought up that Wallace had invoked his right against self-incrimination and refused to cooperate without immunity, Wallace responded that was because “you (Bundy) are doing, and all your constituents will, make me look like a terrible person.” Yet he said it all with the animated confidence of a person who cannot feel remorse nor grasp his own short comings. Jason Wallace barely faltered because unlike a normal person psychopaths do not experience the shame and fear associated with lying.

Wallace’s swagger and demeanor were striking. He smiled and giggled, scoffed and performed. As cross-examination threatened his composure a few times he looked toward his attorney Jason Gazewood as an actor asking a director for a line.

When Bundy confronted Wallace with inconsistencies in his stories (and there were many – from denying a car accident and previous arrests to lies about high school attendance), Wallace’s confidence faded some.

Bundy confronted him with the details of one of is brutal crimes – “Teacka was sleeping when you entered her house, wasn’t she? And then you hit her in the head with a hammer, again and again, didn’t you?”

Wallace simply answered an unemotional, “Yes.”

Cross-examination underscored the obvious – Jason Wallace’s testimony was false, and just like in his previous calculated immunity deals, his testimony was created simply for his own personal gain without regard to anyone or anything else. Cross established that Wallace struck his first immunity deals under false pretenses, pretending to be worried about his then-wife, and that those immunity deals protected him from prosecution in arson, conspiracy to commit murder, including the murder of an eight year old little girl, attempted murder, and more, in exchange for providing testimony favorable to the state. The state would not allow Wallace to answer whether or not he had been promised their support in his parole efforts, although it is widely known that this level of cooperation with state officials could win him the earliest possible parole date of 2025. It was clear that Wallace brokered immunity deals after he brutally killed a woman with a hammer, stabbed a man with a screwdriver, started a full apartment complex on fire, and was arrested on his way to kill an entire family. Those immunity deals all led to the outcome Wallace wanted – the potential for early parole. Despite having committed murders in his twenties that should surely see a person sentenced to life, Wallace could see parole at 45 years old. A conviction in the Hartman murder would destroy any hope of Wallace ever being released, and even strong implications of guilt could interfere with his parole. As Bundy continued to ask questions a picture emerged of Wallace negotiating yet another immunity deal to not only avoid consequences but achieve early parole.

We cannot overstate how incredibly disgusting this all is. John Hartman and his family deserve vastly more respect than for the possibility of Wallace’s conviction to be tossed aside as if it were not more significant than a used tissue. Those who bravely came forward to testify against Wallace ought to be able to live out their lives knowing he will never get out of prison,The State of Alaska has thrown away any regard for the human beings involved in this case with as much regard as Wallace showed when he killed a child, a woman, a friend, and plotted to kill a family. It is hard to imagine a more disturbed system or person than the Alaska justice system and Jason Wallace as they were shown in court. And at the end of the day, Jason Wallace is what he is. If someone sets a rabid dog loose in a playground the dog is not to blame for what comes next. The one holding the leash, the one who knows better, the one who wanted this pet – that is the State of Alaska, and they are more responsible for what comes next out of Wallace than even he is, because they have seen his nature and chose to make the deal.

An action as depraved as the one seen in Alaska courts through the immunity deal with Wallace deserves to be responded to. We will end this post with a series of promises, and assure you we will keep them all.

  • We will see than any elected official who has accountability in this decision does not see re-election, with special attention to Governor Bill Walker who appears to have forgotten entirely that he would not be Governor without the Native vote.
  • We will fight until we prevail to see that Jason Wallace does not get any form of early release. We will do everything we can to see the illegal, disgusting immunity deal revoked and justice for John Hartman. We will see Wallace prosecuted for perjury.
  • We will stand up for the witnesses who fear for their lives, and to whom the state through this immunity action very resoundingly refused to safeguard. Testifying against a man who killed a child is THE RIGHT THING TO DO. We will see that you do not come to harm for doing the right thing.
  • We will ensure the department of law takes action to investigate the conduct of the attorneys, prosecutors, elected officials, attorney general, Alaska Department of law, and every individual from the original case and the present case who behaved in violation of the law or their respective codes of conduct. We will see that those people are held accountable to the fullest extent possible. To be clear, we are talking about Aaron Ring, Jim Geier, Jeff O’Bryant, Scott Mattern, Adrienne Bachman, Jason Gazewood, and anyone who assisted them. We will hold you accountable.Someday, when other professionals consider engaging in similar conduct, you will be the cautionary tale.
  • If it takes us 18 more years, and our children 18 more, and 18 more, and their children more years than we can fathom, we will correct this injustice and do what we can to stop the corruption that destroys lives, steals children, and goes unanswered. We will answer it. And we will not lose, because we raise our children to fight, and you raise yours to lie and hide.
  • We will love life. We will not be bitter, and we will not be angry. We will never let this kind of thing cast a shadow over us and in fact, we will love the light all the more for having glimpsed your darkness. And there, we will find gratitude for what injustice has shown us – the beauty of humanity and the importance of justice.

Day 19 – State Witness Stuns Courtroom, Backfires in Fairbanks Four Case

Day 19, October 30, 2015

Ellsworth, MattThe nineteenth day of proceedings in the Fairbanks Four bid for exoneration opened with the jaw-dropping testimony of witness Matt Ellsworth.

In 2011, Scott Davison came forward to the Innocence Project with information that altered the outlook for the Fairbanks Four. He reluctantly told a story of how in 1997, as a high school student, he and friend Matt Ellsworth were heading out of the Lathrop High School parking lot to ditch school and smoke pot in the bowling alley parking lot nearby. Jason Wallace, and acquaintance to both boys, jumped in the car. Once parked at the bowling alley, Davison said, Wallace held up a newspaper detailing the Hartman murder and told Davison and Ellsworth that he had killed Hartman.

Records indicate that as Davison entered adulthood he led a life troubled by addiction and frequent arrests for petty crimes. When the Alaska Innocence Project filed their post conviction relief filing with his testimony in it, he became the target of attacks by the State of Alaska, aimed at discrediting him through character assassination. To make matters worse, when Ellsworth was contacted by investigators he denied knowing Wallace or Davison, and claimed the events described by Davison simply never happened. This strengthened the attack on Davison The State of Alaska called Ellsworth to the stand to discredit the testimony of Scott Davison and Matt Ellsworth’s denial of the Davison narrative was expected to be a serious blow to Davison’s credibility. But there under oath, facing Marvin Roberts, a man who spent the last eighteen years in prison because of a lie, Matt Ellsworth decided to tell the truth.

When questioning came to the critical point – whether or not anything of note had ever happened while ditching school and smoking pot by the bowling alley – Ellsworth took a long pause, then finally spoke,

hardtruth“There is one time that stands out. “There was a story that led up to an event. A past, recent crime. A recent murder. A young caucasian boy who was beaten to death by….by…” Ellsworth took a long pause before finishing, “By Jason Wallace. He made statements referring to this crime, that he was involved. And he stated, I remember, if I find out that anybody – and I am paraphrasing – tells anyone else, then I’ll end their life…I’ll kill you…I would make sure the person doesn’t live.”

The flabbergasted state prosecutors tried to land on their feet, but it was evident that the Ellsworth testimony came as a complete shock. The demanded to know, over and over, why Ellsworth was changing his story, as he had previously told investigators who called on the phone that he knew nothing about it. Ellsworth admitted that he lied to the investigator who called, out of a desire to stay away from the issue, but mostly because he was scared for his life.

“I felt the need to say something. I am under oath in a court,” Ellsworth said.

When it came time for the petitioner’s attorneys to cross-examine Ellsworth one simply rose and said, “no further questions, your honor.”

Real-life courtroom moments like the Ellsworth testimony are uncommon and his under oath turnaround certainly stunned the attorneys as well as observers. It took tremendous courage to speak out about what he heard back in 1997. Witness after witness has expressed fear for their life and safety for testifying against Jason Wallace. The witnesses who knew Wallace are unified in their belief that he will retaliate against them, and that the State of Alaska will not protect them. Sadly, they are right about the latter point. Instead of dismissing charges against the Fairbanks Four and pursuing the prosecution of serial killer Jason Wallace with vigor, the State of Alaska granted him immunity, bought him a few new suits, dressed him up, and paraded around their star witness with no regard whatsoever to the people who will be in danger when their truly dangerous pet is set free.

In a move which we predicted, but still find entirely disgusting, the State of Alaska brought child-killer Jason Wallace to court not to be prosecuted, but as their new lap dog. For the sake of brevity, we will condense all of Wallace’s testimony to its own post you can read HERE.  But in a nutshell, Wallace denied knowing anyone, knowing anything, ever hearing of the Hartman murder, and insisted that despite a long line of credible and diverse witnesses whose testimony implicated him, they were all lying, and he alone was telling the truth.

Matt Ellsworth’s courage shone brightly. His honesty was the perfect contrast to Wallace’s incredible dishonesty, and the state’s witness ultimately strengthened the case for innocence greatly. Wherever you are Matt Ellsworth, thank you. Please do not feel afraid. There is a power greater, wiser, bigger than men like Jason Wallace, and you are in the hearts of many who have prayed these eighteen years for men like you to find their voice, and they will continue to ask for your protection and reward. You did a hard thing. A beautiful and decent hard thing, and we are glad we were there to see it.

Newsminer Day 19 Coverage

Day 16 – State of Alaska Calls Margaretta Hoffman, Others

Day 16, October 27 2015

collage2The third day of the State of Alaska’s case against the exoneration of the Fairbanks Four featured the completion of the videotaped Veronica Solomon testimony, Margaretta Hoffman, Jason Wallace’s wife Michone Wallace, Harold Lundeen, and Brent Ledford. The testimony generally brief. The only witnesses thus far who have incriminated the Fairbanks Four – Veronica Solomon and Margaretta Hoffman – did not testify in person and were therefore not available for potentially impeaching cross-examination on the stand.

The remaining half of Veronica Solomon was played, during which Solomon contradicted much of her earlier testimony, acknowledged that she had no information regarding the guilt or innocence of the Fairbanks Four, but insisted, “I saw something, and that something meant something.” Solomon acknowledged a summary of what she saw was a tan four-door car at the corner of 9th or 10th and Barnette on a day she thought could be October 11, 1997. Precisely what Solomon saw was difficult to discern, and discussed in detail in our previous post.

The State of Alaska has sought throughout the proceedings to undermine the credibility of the Holmes and Wallace confessions by arguing that the fact that they did not confess during other specific windows of opportunity somehow casts doubt on the current confessions. Wallace, Lundeen, and Ledford, appear to have been called simply to say that Holmes and Wallace had not confessed to them.

Jason Wallace’s wife testified that Wallace never mentioned killing John Hartman. She further testified that neither Jason Wallace nor William Holmes ever divulged their longstanding plans to commit the murders that ultimately landed them in jail. If the goal of the testimony was to establish probable innocence based on Jason Wallace not confessing to some people closer in his life than the friend, attorney, and public defender’s investigator he did confess to, it certainly fell short. Michone Wallace’s testimony only established the men in fact have a history of committing murders without discussing it with many people.

Harold Lundeen testified that he saw Scott Wallace and Davison enter the car named in the Davison testimony. It was inside that car, Davison previously testified, that Wallace confessed to killing John Hartman. However, it was clear that the State did not call Lundeen for the corroboration, but to demonstrate another person they believe Wallace would have told. Lundeen testified that he also didn’t have any knowledge of the his high school friend, Jason Wallace’s, involvement in the Hartman murder. In what earlier witness Scott Davison claimed was simply a typo, “Holmes” was referred to as “Harold” in the account of a confession Davison heard from Jason Wallace in 1997. Harold Lundeen, who knew Holmes, Wallace, and Davis in high school, simply testified that he did not know anything of significance.

Retired California Shasta County district attorney who prosecuted William Holmes in the murders and conspiracy that sent him to prison, Brent Ledford, provided conjecture and essentially a cost-benefit analysis on whether or not William Holmes should have disclosed the Hartman killing and turned informant on Jason Wallace at the time Holmes was arrested in 2002.  He described how it may or may not have been advantageous for Holmes to confess to the Hartman killing and implicated Wallace. Mr. Ledford ultimately implied it would not have proved advantageous Holmes to confess at that time. In his testimony, Holmes simply said he did not believe that confessing to another murder would be of any benefit to him while being prosecuted for another murder.

devildealWhen Mr. Ledford was asked about negotiating leniency for Jason Wallace in exchange for his testimony against Holmes he stated, “Sometimes we have to make a deal with the devil,” referencing Wallace.

Ledford’s also testified that from 2002-2006, a time period during which he worked on prosecuting William Holmes, no one to include public defender Jeff Wildridge and investigator Tom Bole, brought up allegations of Jason Wallace’s involvement in the beating death of John Hartman.  So far the “devil” has received leniency on murder, arson, and attempted murder charges from his 2002 arrest. He was most recently granted immunity in the beating death of John Hartman in exchange for his testimony for the State of Alaska.  The “devil” knows how to work the judicial system to his benefit – he’s only honest when he can benefit from doing so.

State prosecutor Bachman  built on her consistent assertion that no one tells the truth without benefit to themselves.  Holmes did not receive any leniency or personal gain for telling the truth. Coming forward without incentive has consistently been cited by the state as a reason to doubt Holmes’ credibility.  Holmes testified earlier in the proceedings that the decision to come forward was about his own spiritual journey.

After a string of witnesses who were largely forgettable or did not testify to any substance, the most outrageous testimony of the day was given by Margareta Hoffman aka ‘Crystal’  – an ex-girlfriend of Kenny Mayo. Hoffman’s testimony contradicted all police interviews from the original investigation and previous trial testimony regarding the time or circumstances when Marvin Roberts returned to his home the night of the Hartman murder. The testimony of the occupants of the home and Marvin Roberts himself has consistently been that no one was awake when Roberts returned home. Kenny Mayo is Marvin Robert’s step father’s brother. Hoffman claimed that the night Hartman was killed she was at Marvin Robert’s home with her then-boyfriend and contrary to all previous testimony, that there was a wild party afoot at the home. Hoffman provided a hearsay account of a conversation allegedly had between Roberts and Mayo. Petitioners attorneys countered that Kenny Mayo, whom the state was reluctant to call, must be called and was expected to testify that none of the events described by Hoffman took place.

Hoffman has a long history of drug an alcohol abuse and a significant criminal record. She went by “Crystal,” a nod to her significant crystal meth use, for years. Hoffman testified that she did not come forward until 2013 after seeing coverage of the Fairbanks Four exoneration efforts on television.  She expressed extreme difficulty remembering even general times of significant events in her life stating, “I have a hard time remembering years.”  When asked how long she dated Mr. Mayo she replied, “Six to eight years, give or take a year.”  Mrs. Hoffman isn’t sure if she dated Mr. Mayo five to nine years, which exhibits the kind of extreme memory loss associated with heavy drug use. Yet, testimony that Hoffman could provide details of a specific date in 1997 were submitted by the state as reliable.

Mrs. Hoffman testified that on the night in question she was drinking alcohol and using cocaine at the home of Art and Hazel Mayo, whom she said she had only met a handful of times, while her boyfriend Kenny went out to a dance.  She testified that Kenny Mayo returned some time between 12-2am and that Marvin Roberts returned an hour or two after Kenny Mayo.  Hoffman’s testimony claims that Marvin Roberts returned home between 1-4am.  Hoffman testified that when Roberts came in, he and Kenny Mayo went into a back room to talk.

Mrs. Hoffman asserts that Kenny exited Marvin Roberts’s room with some black leather “professional-looking” shoes and told Hoffman they had to go.

“It was daylight/twilight when we left.”  According to Mrs. Hoffman’s time line the very latest she would have left the Mayo house was at 4:30am. National weather records indicate that sunrise would have been after 9:00am. Hoffman further testified that Kenny Mayo told her they had to get rid of the shoes because Mr. Roberts and some friends had beat up some kid.  She reported seeing dried orange brown blood on the black leather shoes. This piece of testimony elicited immediate public skepticism, as it is impossible for a person to see an orange stain on a black shoe.

In addition to impossible visual descriptions, memory issues, and time frame inaccuracies, the questioning directed to Hoffman by the State often seemed leading.

Bachman asked, “How long was this before Mr. Roberts was arrested?”

Hoffman answered, “It was the morning before.”

Bachman quickly corrected her, “It was a day or two before.”

Without pause for thought Hoffman immediately replied, “Yes.”

Bachman routinely uses behavioral and linguistic manipulations in her questioning. This was particularly apparent in the videotaped deposition of Hoffman.

Hoffman asserted that Kenny Mayo made mention of John Hartman being sodomized with a lightbulb or a flashbulb, testimony that does not comply with the forensic findings of the case.

addupHoffman was asked on cross-examination about her drug use and testified that she started using cocaine in 1994 or 1995 and began using methamphetamines in 2004-2005.  Mrs. Hoffman reported recent sobriety on a timeline discredited by arrest records.“I’ve been sober a couple of years – yeah, two years.”  Petitioner’s attorneys also cross-examined Hoffman about her criminal record, which included three DUI’s, harboring, aiding, and abetting two individuals in escaping Fairbanks Youth Facility, an assault against Kenny Mayo in 2001, and theft. It was ultimately revealed that Hoffman has an extensive history of drug and alcohol abuse, was most recently charged with a probation violation in May of 2014 (which the prosecutors declined to prosecute), and exhibits memory issues. The most significant factual issues with her testimony were:

  • Hoffman testified that the latest they could have left the Mayo’s home was at 4:30am, and that it was daylight out when they left. This is factually impossible, as sunrise was many hours later.
  • Hoffman testified that she was at the Mayo residence, but the statements of all others in and around the home state Hoffman was not at the Roberts/Mayo residence during the time frame she describes.
  • Hoffman had a volatile relationship with Kenny Mayo, which ended for the last time when she was arrested for assaulting him. There was the undeniable “scorned woman” element to her testimony. Her testimony would, it is important to remember, implicate ex boyfriend Kenny Mayo in a serious crime and therefore is a vehicle for both public condemnation and accusation.
  • Hoffman testified that she has been sober for “two years” when in fact she has been arrested for crimes related to alcohol or drug use as recently as May 2014.
  • Hoffman claimed that the night in question she was using cocaine and alcohol, and that she was a regular user of cocaine and crystal meth from 1994 to 2013. Both substances alter brain chemistry, amnesia, psychosis, extreme paranoia, hallucinations, mood disturbances, changes in brain structure, and more, casting doubt on the general cognitive functioning of Hoffman given her prolonged use.
  • Hoffman has a history of crimes of dishonesty and abuses of the justice system for personal gain.
  • Hoffman testified that she saw orange stains, presumed to be blood, on black shoes. As readers can extrapolate themselves, it is not possible to see a colored stain on black leather.

In the end, it was clear that the State of Alaska strategy is to muddy the waters at any cost, including on the backs of those with altered functioning, ulterior motives, and the trick not yet seen but as common and likely, the bargained-for testimony of criminals.

The proceedings should have citizens asking big questions. Why do we “have to make a deal with the devil?” Is using the testimony of the incapacitated a form of institutional abuse? Does our justice system seek justice? And most importantly, what can we do to change it?

Day 15 – The State of Alaska Begins Their Case Against Exoneration

October  26, 2015

Prosecutor Adrienne Bachman

Prosecutor Adrienne Bachman

After a brief continued cross-examination of Marvin Roberts and yet another sealed hearing, the petitioners rested their case and asked the judge for an expedited verdict. This is standard legal practice, and essentially says, our case is so strong the court should just make a ruling right now. Judge Lyle denied the motion. The State of Alaska then asked the same – that the judge make a ruling before even hearing their case – and he denied their motion as well. Apparently the intention behind the state making such a move is essentially the state saying, their case was so weak just go ahead and rule in our favor. That said, the idea of asking for a ruling before even presenting your case, particularly the serial killer whose testimony they deemed so critical that they fought for him to receive immunity from prosecution in this murder, seems really strange. All motions were denied, and the State of Alaska began their case.

For those not in a reading mood, here is a quick summary: The State of Alaska called a former bar owner who is very buddy-buddy with the cops responsible for this wrongful conviction to testify that Eugene’s mom told him that Eugene told her he never got out of a car, then they called Eugene’s mom Ida who said that never happened, and then they played video tape of a crazy woman who wouldn’t testify in person telling a really long and incredibly strange story about seeing some Asian/dark-skinned/ light-skinned/ running/ sitting/ yelling/ tire-changing/ men maybe on October 10 while God spoke to her, she changed lanes, rolled a window down, and all in the dark.

For those of you who want all the details, here they are:

Ida

Ida Hogue

The first witness called to the stand was Eugene Vent’s mother, Ida Hogue. Ms. Hogue took the stand and testified that she had not had any conversation about Eugene with the next scheduled witness, Steve Paskvan, that she did not know him, and that she did not get a ride to the airport from him in 1997. Her testimony was brief.

Ida Hogue was followed by witness Steve Paskvan. Paskvan is a former bar owner in Fairbanks, Alaska. He testified that within days of Eugene Vent’s arrest he drove Ida to the airport, and that on the way she told him that Eugene had told her he “didn’t get out of the car.”

paskavan, steve

Steve Paskavan

On cross it was revealed that Paskvan owned a bar which Detective Aaron Ring frequented and that the two were friends. Paskvan admitted to having a history of criticizing the case with his detective friends. It was further revealed that Paskvan came forward with this testimony quite recently after having Fairbanks officer Peyton Meredith, whom has served as the Fairbanks Police spokesperson on this case in media during recent years, as a guest speaker in his class. While Officer Meredith was there speaking to the high school students, Paskvan told the class about his alleged conversation with Ida Hogue, and Peyton Meredith asked Paskvan to come forward. It was also pointed out in cross that Paskvan did not appear to know who Ida was in relation to Eugene Vent, sometimes calling her his mother and at other times his stepmother.

The next witness was Veronica Solomon who appeared in videotaped deposition, not because she lives out of the area as with some previous witnesses, but because she has been avoiding subpoena and therefore in-person testimony.

In the video Solomon gave a disjointed and wandering account of what she says she saw while driving by the intersection of 9th and Barnette a night she is pretty sure was October 10, 1997 around the time Hartman was killed. Solomon said she rode by the intersection while driving a cab, and saw two men who she believed were Kevin Pease and Marvin Roberts, who looked light-skinned, or dark-skinned, like Asians, “half-breeds,” white, and Native. She says the men were in a brown four door car (Marvin drove a bright blue two door car) and that there were others inside the car. She said the men were getting a tire from the trunk, getting in the car, out of the car, running around the car, ducking, and shouting “freeze.” She says she considered stopping but didn’t because she felt what she calls a “check” – her word for a message from God instructing her not to do something.

“They were both coming around the car, going toward the trunk,” she said. “The one on the right side went back to the right side. The one on the left side went to the left, came back to the back of the car, ran to the left again like he didn’t know where to go, like they were scattering. And then he jumped inside the car and I don’t know if he came out the other side or if he ducked. I don’t know what he did,” Solomon said.

All of this, Solomon testified, happened while she was changing lanes on a one way street, rolling down her window, and driving by an intersection in the dark. It was, to say the least, not very credible because it is impossible for her to have seen what she claims to have seen. Solomon testified, in explaining why she had not come forward, that she did not see any news coverage of the Hartman case until 2005. She testified that she was so sure of what she had seen in 1997 that she wanted to keep the images in her mind pure. However, in 2005 she apparently sought news coverage and was then able to identify that the ducking, running, sitting, standing, tire-changing, light-skinned, dark-skinned, Asian, half-breed, white, Native men she saw in a brown four door car probably in 1997 in the dark were Marvin Roberts and Kevin Pease. She returned to the scene at 3:30 and 6:30 in the morning, per her testimony, and did not see any police cars or crime scene tape. Solomon also provided criticism of the supporters of the Fairbanks Four’s innocence, saying “They think those boys are innocent and they’re fighting for that, without knowing whether they are innocent or not.”

The nature of her testimony was such that it left a listener wondering if she was in sound mind. The other half of her videotaped deposition is expected to begin the 16th day of proceedings.

Following the State’s first day of arguments social media and newspaper comments in the small town were ablaze with commentary about the individuals called.

Ida Hogue, commenters said over and over, lived in Fairbanks and had three small children, including her twins who were babies in 1997. She lived in a busy public housing complex and her neighbors remember the days and months following her son Eugene Vent’s arrest. “This doesn’t make any damn sense,” one commenter said, “everyone knows Ida was in Birch Park staying right by my mom, and at that time she didn’t go anywhere. This is something you remember. This was a difficult time.” Other commenters indicated the same.

As to Steve Paskvan, comments focused on his political aspirations, the clear hearsay nature of the testimony, and the improbability that the circumstances it was described to have taken place in could have existed. His close relationship with the detectives who investigated the original case was discussed as well.

Veronica Solomon

It was, however, the testimony of Veronica Solomon that elicited the most public discussion. We received multiple messages within the first hour after her taped deposition was played from people who knew her alerting us to her mental illness and brain injuries. Two relatives also indicated that they were not sure if she was driving a cab then, but did not think so. A friend said quite kindly that Solomon “thinks differently” and that she found it concerning that anyone would take her testimony in such a serious situation.

The impossibility of the testimony is perhaps of more interest. Solomon testified that she was traveling at five miles per hour (one fifth the speed limit) when she drove by the intersection. The average two lane road is 9-15 feet wide, and a car driving 5 miles per hour travels 7.5 feet per second, which means that she would have had about 2 seconds in which to make all of her observations. Given expert testimony in the case regarding the limitations of human sight, especially eye-witness identification, it seems unlikely that she could have identified anyone in the circumstances described. Her testimony sounds impossible because it is clearly made up, which leaves the question of why someone would make it up. The most plausible explanation for motivation would be mental illness.

It is tempting to be angry with Solomon for what seems to be some really wild and  fabricated testimony. The idea that someone would fabricate such absurd testimony ostensibly for attention or the gratification of some small power with other human beings lives at stake is hard to stomach. However, we urge readers to look a bit deeper than the surface. If the accounts of those who know her are true, she may be mentally unwell. When people who are not well engage in behaviors that are attention-seeking or harmful to others it is not okay, but it is often a manifestation of their imbalance. The real travesty is that such testimony would even be entered into consideration by the State of Alaska. Even though it is utterly ridiculous, testimony like that of Solomon’s can absolutely impact the outcome of criminal cases. One has to look no further than Arlo Olson, a man who struggles with mental illness and whose impossible testimony was the cornerstone of the original convictions. Olson has since recanted, but his original testimony was pivotal. Nothing is as powerful as an eyewitness. It is a sad testament to the condition of our justice system that prosecutors will use the same unethical tactics in 2015 to keep innocent men in jail as they used in 1997 to put them there. It is evidence of a disturbing lack of progress. We hope to see these convictions overturned, and through them, forced progress in a sick system.

NPR Story on Day 15

channel 11 Day 15

Newsminer Article day 15

Day 14 – Another Beating Victim, Marvin Roberts, State of Alaska’s Attack on the Press

October 23, 2015

The fourteenth day of proceedings opened with the testimony of Joshua Sorenson who testified on a videotaped deposition about watching Wallace assault his now deceased brother just a few months prior to the Hartman murder.

Sorenson’s brother was assaulted in a fashion disturbingly similar to the assault that took Hartman’s life. Sorenson described how, after a verbal altercation over Wallace accosting someone else at the Tanana Valley State Fair, his brother and Wallace went outside the fairgrounds to settle the argument with a fight. But, according to the testimony, Wallace sucker punched Sorenson, got him on the ground, and was kicking him “as hard as a person can hit another person” until Sorenson lost consciousness.

Sorenson testified, “This isn’t like a normal fist fight, he hurt my brother really bad…broke his nose, smashed a bunch of sinuses in his face, I mean he beat him. You couldn’t even recognize him on one side of his face.”

Sorenson’s brother was hospitalized. The assault was reported to police who took no action. “The (officer) literally told me my brother got what he deserved for going out there.”

Another notable element of the Sorenson testimony was the repetition of unusual slang, which was also heard from witnesses who described the Hartman assault. Sorenson testified that during the altercation Wallace kept saying, ‘I’ll stole on you, nigga, I’ll stole on you,’ whatever that means. That one statement because he said it over and over stands out.”

MArvinMarvin Roberts also took the stand, and is the last of the four men seeking exoneration to take the stand. Despite an aggressive and manipulative line of questioning throughout cross-examination, Roberts stood his ground and testified to the same events he described at 19 years old the day he was first contacted and has repeated over and over in the last 18 years. Roberts described attending a wedding reception. Scores of guests came forward after is arrest to affirm he indeed spent the night at the wedding reception. Roberts described dancing through the night, giving friends a few quick rides to the Mapco gas station a couple blocks down the road to buy pop, and leaving the reception well after the Hartman assault time frame, stopping briefly by a teenage party, then heading home. Roberts testified that he was not drinking, that he did not hang out with the other accused men that night, that they were not in his car, that he did not assault John Hartman or anyone else, and that as he has maintained for an unbroken 18 years, he is innocent of the charges he was convicted of.
marvinletterDuring cross-examination special prosecutor Adrienne Bachman revealed that Marvin Roberts had, on her request, supplied her with every single piece of documentation from letters to prison records that he had saved through the last 18 years of incarceration. The incredible irony here is that according to the Alaska State Troopers who provided testimony damning to the state’s case and the conduct of its prosecutors, when Bachman was asked for emails as part of the investigation in the case she refused to turn them over. Roberts, on the other hand, apparently complied and provided Bachman with all of his written records and communications. With the letters and records in hand, Bachman proceeded to launch one accusation after another at Roberts, all based on far-flung and unsourced conspiracy theories. Bachman used a series of letters that did not contain any mention of Arlo Olson of any kind, that did not mention any gangs or gang activity of any kind, including letters between he and his pastor, in a vague and baffling attempt to accuse Roberts of witness intimidation. Bachman openly admitted to the court that the four men have had no contact with Arlo Olson and have not had any altercations with him. Arlo Olson testified that he has not been intimidated by the men, their supporters, or anyone claiming to represent them. “But,” Adrienne Bachman said, Mr. Olson was nonetheless intimidated, nonetheless assaulted, nonetheless spit on.”

Arlo Olson testified that he has never directly or indirectly been harassed by the four men. One by one, under cross examination questions about how the four men felt about Arlo Olson, each of the Fairbanks Four testified that they forgive him. When Bachman said to George Frese, “You hate Arlo Olson, don’t you?”

Frese replied, “No. He’s a victim, just like us.”

Olson, however, did indicate that he had been subjected to poor treatment in jail, and that the poor treatment escalated when the 2008 “Decade of Doubt” Newsminer series by investigative journalist Brian O’Donoghue was published. The series revealed Olson’s improbable testimony could have been influenced by grants of leniency in his own court cases, that it was likely scientifically impossible for the testimony to be true, outlined his back and forth attempts at recanting and unrecanting his testimony, and widely identified Olson as an informant.

Arlo Olson has some things going against him in prison – things which only he is responsible for. He is a snitch, and on the prison scale of snitches it is hard to imagine that fabricating testimony is even as acceptable as providing factual testimony. He has essentially made a criminal career of committing crimes against women and children. It does not seem outside the scope of reason that in the facilities where he as served time prisoners may have been unkind to him, but it also does not seem reasonable to ascribe responsibility for the quality of his life in prison to any of the petitioners.

If Arlo Olson, like any person, was treated inhumanely, that is sad. None of his life choices excuse violence or intimidation or threats or harm. Yet, the only people whom Arlo Olson is on record saying intimidated him, threatened him, or attempted to coerce his testimony are Detective Aaron Ring and Prosecutor Jeff O’Bryant, who did so on behalf of the State of Alaska. In fact, the proceedings have been rife with substantiated claims of witness intimidation in the original case done by the state, and those can be read here, here, here, here, here, here, here, and here. Are you not tired of links pertaining to claims by witnesses that they were threatened and intimidated in this case by the state of Alaska? Good! Because we have plenty to go around. You can also read these accounts here, here, here, here, here,here, here, here, and here. Still not enough? Sadly, yes, we have more. How about reading here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, and here? Are we out of links? No! But we are tired of typing the word here. So use Google if we have somehow failed to satisfy you.

In the end, it does matter that eighteen years after this injustice began the State of Alaska is still employing lies, threats, intimidation, and behavior so poor that it violates ethics guidelines and rules of conduct, and the law. That matters. It matters that they are slandering citizens, attacking the press, and trying their best to keep four innocent men in prison with a web of deliberately crafted falsehoods. It matters that they are muddying the water not in the interest of justice but in the interest of preventing people from seeing clearly. It all matters because justice matters. Be outraged because this is not okay and what you have to say about it matters a great deal as well. It matters that the state granted immunity to the man that killed Hartman in what appears to be yet another attempt to uphold the convictions with influenced testimony. It matters that the leader of our state has sat idly by, endorsing this conduct with his silence, because injustice of this type is an indictment of the justice system, and we are all beholden to it. Its corruption can touch us all.

antone42But do not be discouraged, because here is the beautiful truth: in this same community, weary and with every entitlement to bitterness after eighteen long years of fighting, where agents of the State of Alaska rallied against justice, fought to keep the innocent imprisoned, fought to set the guilty free, fought to humiliate and degrade those who would speak out, where all week-long the onslaught of injustice exhausted and baffled those who used to believe in the system, the sun set Friday on a week of outrage and hurt. Yet, on Saturday, these same people gathered. They laughed, they prayed, they dug into their pockets and contributed to fund the fight against their own government for justice and freedom. And they were good, and happy, and they chose to create light rather than dwell on the darkness. Young men from other tribes joined them with messages of strength. They sang the songs of their language and the dances far older than the injustice brought upon them these hundreds of years ago. They sang fight songs. Warriors, they said to the people, don’t go backward. They do not go in circles. They do not give up. And there beside the river, laughing and dancing and remembering, the injustice was triumphed again as it has been many times before and will be many times again. The State of Alaska has deep pockets, the have the keys, the have the guns, they have the courthouses, they have the police, they have the attorneys, they have all this worldly power. But the don’t have the kind of power that was alive and well inside the people, and they can’t put that light out no matter how hard they try.

HERE is the one link you should definitely take a look at. Pictures of people responding to this injustice by being amazing and kind and brave and so good it will make you believe in people completely.

Day 9 – George Frese’s Tearful Testimony, and a Massive Demonstration of Solidarity

October 15, 2015
george3Fairbanks Superior Courtroom was packed Thursday as the first of the Fairbanks Four to testify, George Frese, entered the courtroom with his hands cuffed to a chain around his waist. George Frese was dressed in bright yellow, the word “prisoner” in block letters across his back in faded black. His hair, streaked with sparsely with gray, was half braided and fell past his waist. After some opening proceedings he excised under guard to another room to change his clothes, and returned in white to take the stand

George Frese’s own pro bono attorney, Bob Bundy of Dorsey and Whitney, opened questioning. Frese answered questions about his background, upbringing, and life prior to the days in October of 1997 when he was arrested for the killing of John Hartman. Questions eventually led to the night of October 10, 1997, and George recounted a night at home drinking with friends, a clear memory of leaving his apartment around 1:30 am for a wedding reception and party, and ultimately how he drank enough that night that his memories of the early morning hours of October 11, 1997 are hazy. Frese recounted stopping in at a reception, a bar, a party, and getting a ride part of the way home. During that walk, he said, he injured his ankle. When questions turned to the later morning, when a nurse examining his foot fingered him as a potential suspect in the Hartman beating and police began an interrogation that would last many hours and ultimately lead to Frese’s false confession. The attorney asked Frese a handful of questions about how the interrogation felt, and Frese said repeatedly that he was scared.

“Why were you scared?” Attorney Bob Bundy asked.

george2It was at this point that Frese hung his head and began to weep. With his head down and amidst sobs he said, “They said I did all this shit that I didn’t do. You motherfuckers know we are innocent,” Frese said between sobs,” I’m so tired of this, I did not do this shit.” His voice trailed off as he broke down into unbroken sobs. As Frese struggled to stop crying and regain some composure, he sobbed with his back to the gallery and Judge Lyle called a recess. Many in the courtroom were overcome with emotion as well, and cried as Frese continued to collect himself. After a few minutes he stood up and walked out of the courtroom with a guard.

Hundreds of miles away in Anchorage, as George Frese struggled for composure, many hundreds of Alaskans kept theirs in a powerful peaceful demonstration of solidarity with the Fairbanks Four. The crowd was gathered for the Alaska Federation of Natives (AFN) – the largest annual gathering of indigenous in the state, during which tribes from all regions meet on common issues. Alaska State Governor Bill Walker appeared the same morning on stage at AFN to address the delegation.

four7Walker has not responded directly to the many resolutions and requests from tribal entities like Tanana Chiefs Conferernce or the Alaska Federation of Natives asking him to intervene in the wrongful conviction case and examine disparities inside the justice system. Walker did, however, make a brief and nearly mandatory mention of the case during his speech, saying “On the Fairbanks Four, we’re not where we need to be on that,” Walker said. “I’m so impressed with your passion on that. I sense your frustration toward me; I applaud your passion.”

As Walker spoke a group of attendees in the back quietly unrolled a banner that read, “Justice for the Four.” They held their arms high, and four fingers up. The gesture spread through the silent crowd until the room was filled with citizens holding four fingers up, looking at the governor.

f4111Traditional chief Jerry Issac joined Governor Walker at the microphone. Isaac asked the elders of his village Tanacross, and neighboring villages, to forgive him for using a grief song. He told the Governor, “In our native way when a death suddenly happens we are shocked, and saddened, and we grieve. In this case there is no physical death, but the forceful and sudden taking of our young men…and we are shocked, and saddened, and grieving…because the facts prove them innocent. The longs years of shock and sorrow, and a want for freedom, inequality in justice, the grieving…our only way to express our frustration, our sadness, is to grieve, with a song that expresses sorrow.”

<script>(function(d, s, id) { var js, fjs = d.getElementsByTagName(s)[0]; if (d.getElementById(id)) return; js = d.createElement(s); js.id = id; js.src = “//connect.facebook.net/en_US/sdk.js#xfbml=1&version=v2.3”; fjs.parentNode.insertBefore(js, fjs);}(document, ‘script’, ‘facebook-jssdk’));

Jerry Isaac sang. We cannot tell you how the song sounded, because it will never sound again the way it sounded then. It sounded like a song written before you were born. Like a song in a language you knew long ago or in a dream. It sounded like a song that has echoed inside rooms thick with grief for many years, seeped into the log walls of many tribal halls and caught in the soundproof ceilings of hospital rooms. It sounded like the cry of the wounded, and it sounded like a song in which the screams of grief and get lost inside the notes. We cannot tell you of Governor Walker heard it – truly heard it. But the people heard it, and tears streaked their faces with their hands.

In the courtroom, George Frese returned after a brief break. The gallery of observers rose to their feet, arms high in the air, and holding up four fingers. Frese teared up when he saw them, tears running down their faces. All those miles away, they heard that song too, and he heard it.

George remained calm the rest of the day. He reiterated and reiterated his innocence, his whereabouts, and answered question after question. Under cross-examination special prosecutor Adrienne Bachman tried to insinuate that Arlo Olson may have recanted due to pressure or threats from George or the four.

“You hate Arlo Olson, don’t you?” She asked.

“No,”  Frese answered plainly of the man whose testimony led to his conviction and eighteen years of incarceration. “He’s a victim in this, just like us.”

Since the testimony of Frese and the demonstrations, Facebook has flooded with users changing their profile pictures to “fours.” There, in the song, in the hands held high, in the exasperated testimony between sobs, in the tears, and in the day, was a simple reminder – we are all in this together.

Hey Aaron, Hey Jeff, Hey Adrienne – can you hear them now? I think that song goes, I am Spartacus. And thank you. Because it takes injustice sometimes to teach us how important justice really is.

collage

four4four1four6

collage2NPR Coverage of AFN Protest

Anchorage Daily News – Protest

KNBA Protest Coverage

Frese’s Emotional Claim of Innocence – Newsminer