Big Bad Wolf III – The Police Killing of Henry Kettendorf

badcop In 1994 the words “viral post” would have meant nothing. There was no status update, no like or share buttons, and to the common Interior resident, no internet. It was in this era that the Golden Heart City saw the height of city and police corruption and lived with violence against Native people by the police force as a social norm.

Activism and advocacy journalism in this time was not for the faint of heart. Gene George, then a resident of North Pole, Alaska, ran a small publication Athabascan Reports. He was known for reporting on controversial topics. Today we are posting Volume 5, Issue #1 of Athabascan Report titled “Fairbanks Cops Out of Control.” This issue contains a transcript of a conversation between two city police officers following the killing of Henry Kettendorf.

Kettendorf, a 32 year old Native male, was wanted on burglary charges out of Anchorage. He was unarmed and killed by a single shot through his heart fired by Officer Aaron Ring. Civilian witness accounts differed from the police report. Troopers investigated the shooting and concluded it was justified, although they also “declined to release their findings” according to a February 13, 1995 article in the Sitka Sentenial.

A coroner’s inquest was eventually held, and Officer Aaron Ring was represented by none other than former Fairbanks District Attorney Bill Murphy, who went on to represent Eugene Vent through a trial which ended in his wrongful conviction. If this constitutes a conflict of interest it was never disclosed. The death of Henry Kettendorf all but disappeared into obscurity after the coroner’s inquest found in favor of Officer Aaron Ring and FPD and has remained a topic of conversation largely through the efforts of a determined and controversial local activist.

Athabascan Reports published articles on this Kettendorf killing, but none were so controversial as the report below. In this issue, Gene George published the full transcript of a conversation between two FPD officers in which they berate the female reporter from the Daily Newsminer for publishing an unflattering article, calling her a cunt and bitch among other gender-specific slurs. They go on to make light of the shooting of Kettendorf, joking that they would not have tried to save him, but said “die, motherfucker” to him as he bled out. The two officers also discuss retaliation on the witness.

By this account, the last sight Henry Kettendorf saw while he was alive was Aaron Ring’s face, after Kettendorf cried out, “you shot me!” Officer Ring apparently answered, “Yep.” The men in the transcript think this is hilarious.

It is not fair nor logical for us to weigh in on whether the shooting of Kettendorf was justified. It appears that it was not – he was an unarmed man in a well-lit parking lot. But without complete information, which has proved difficult to find, we will withhold a conclusion. But the death of Henry Kettendorf certainly took place inside an unacceptable police culture. The fact that officers would speak about a person this way, talk of retaliation through inappropriate use of police power against witnesses, and that the climate in general was so destructive dispatchers felt the need to secretly record and expose officers, and that when they did, the tapes provided to the City Council and Mayor simply went missing, exposes a lot about the power structure in Fairbanks in the 1990’s. The events which led to the wrongful conviction of the Fairbanks Four took place on this same stage with all the same players. Rumor has it that shortly after this leak the dispatchers were fired and replace by the wives of Aaron Ring and Jim Geier.

Inside this climate people like Gene George reported these events when that was so much harder than it is today. We owe a debt to people like him.

Below, his work speaks for itself.

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Introducing The Big Bad Wolf I – Officer Clifford “Aaron” Ring

justicequoteThe decision to fight for the Fairbanks Four has not come without hardship. Many of us who chose to take a stand have, and will continue to, come under attack. One of the hardest things to do is speak out against people who we know are powerful, at least in the worldly sense. However, it is also one of the most important things we have done and will do. This is one of those difficult posts.

We are not fighting against an accident. We are not rallying against an injustice of coincidence. The Fairbanks Four were not the unfortunate four harmed by chance. They were the victims of deliberate actions taken by human beings. We do not believe that means they were forsaken by their maker or tossed aside. Instead, they came under the hardship they were born to bear, and we were given the responsibility of freeing them and exposing the anatomy of injustice in our hometown so that a greater good could come of it.

We have discussed some of the noteworthy corruption in a previous post HERE  and we do not plan to stop talking about corruption in this case until it is fully revealed, until those who committed the crime of deliberate injustice are exposed, and until amends are made to all who were hurt.

We will never be able to make a completely comprehensive post about the players in this case whose mistakes or deliberate actions led to this injustice. It is not possible to know the heart and mind, and therefore the intentions, of another human being. But we can tell you what we know and what we have been told about the men and women whose actions and choices paved the road to this injustice. It is not our wish to enact revenge on them. It is only our wish that the whole truth be known someday so that there may come a time when there is indeed justice for all.

We will post a series of pieces on individuals who played a critical role in the arrest, investigation, wrongful conviction, and illegal incarceration of the Fairbanks Four.

Clifford “Aaron” Ring

aaron ringIt seems fitting to make Aaron Ring first in the “Big Bad Wolf” recounting of the key players in the wrongful conviction of the Fairbanks Four. If this was a movie, he would be the bad guy. He was extremely active in the case, from the initial arrests to the court trials, and touched almost every aspect of the case.

George Frese, Marvin Roberts, Eugene Vent, and Kevin Pease have spent most of the last 18 years in 5X8 concrete prison cells, often for 23 of 24 hours in a day. For the duration of their time in prison, and indeed since their arrests, all four have procalimed their innocence in a case that has long been one of the most contested and controversial in Alaska’s history.

AaronRingsHouseBy contrast, Aaron Ring lives here. The only thing these accommodations have in common is, of course, that both are funded by the State of Alaska. The retired FPD officer lives in Florida now on a comfortable pension where apparently he can wake up every morning, put his shoes on one at a time, eat breakfast, and apparently go about life with no outward betrayal of regret, if it is there at all.

The goal of this case-specific wrongful conviction blog has been to tell a wrongful conviction story in great detail to create a broader awareness of the issue at large and this case. We have long implored the public to come forward with any information related to this case and enter a public dialogue. What we receive in response to that request perhaps more often than anything else is information on or complaints about Officer Aaron Ring. We have had multiple source accusations of race-based hate crimes by Aaron Ring as a juvenile and young adult at Lathrop High School, two accusations of sexual assault on an underage victim, one while a uniformed officer and one not. We have had many unsolicited reports by people who had contact with officer Aaron Ring as juveniles that they consider abusive. These range from actual assaults (being thrown on the ground, hit, tripped, knocked off a bicycle, slammed on a car door, etc.) to pseudo-assaults (being cuffed in the back of a police car while the breaks are repeatedly slammed), to psychologically abusive contact. Keep in mind, these accusers all have one thing in common –  they were CHILDREN when these events occurred.

This is not the first time that dozens upon dozens of alleged adult victims of child abuse have come forward to finger an individual who held a trusted position in the community. The Catholic Church had a whole scandal. Teachers, boy scout troop leaders, favorite coaches, priests, pastors…….this is recognizable territory. A scandal tends to deepen as more and more alleged victims surface with their claims. In general, mounting accusations are often perceived as confirmation that there is after all “something to it.” We have all seen that before, and on our side of the internet we are seeing it again here.

We are neither qualified nor prepared to evaluate or determine the veracity of these statements. But we want to acknowledge that they have been made.

What we can document and verify is the conduct and speech on record by Officer Aaron Ring as he investigated the Fairbanks Four case, and we have. These pages ultimately together just tell a story, and Aaron Ring is a character that appears over and over. Here are some of the more stand-out moments of his conduct.

  • Aaron Ring lied to the people being interviewed and threatened them. He made up evidence, told people that their friends or families had placed them there or told the officers they were lying, threatened people with jail or other harm if they failed to agree.
  • Aaron Ring, according to multiple witnesses, turned the tape recorders off and on during police interviews. Ring used the times the recorder was off, according to these witnesses, to threaten them more directly, provide more extreme false information, or reassure them that if they just said what he wanted them to say it would not be a big deal. Alaska law requires interrogations be taped in their entirety.
  • When George Frese said, “I want to go home,” Aaron Ring claimed he had said it alone in an empty room. Ring would have been obligated to stop the interrogation if George (which he indeed did) asked to go home.
  • When Eugene Vent, drunk and only seventeen, said “I want my mama,” Ring downplayed the statement and continued with the interview.
  • Played the major part in some of the most harrowing interviews in the case, including Shara David, Edgar Henry, Antonio Sisto, Eugene Vent, George Frese, Kevin Pease, Marvin Roberts, and conducted the first interview with Chris Stone, which is “missing,” and with EJ Stephens, likewise “missing.”
  • Aaron Ring made a damning and misleading exhibit with the help of prosecutor Jeff O’Bryant. This exhibit was called “totally unscientific” by the only expert who saw it in trial, but he was not called to testify. The exhibit was not to scale, and consisted of an overlay of George Frese’s boot print overtop of a photo of the victim. The size had been adjusted to create an appearance of a match. The lab logo was left on the boot print, creating the misleading impression that the exhibit had been created by scientists.

We must preface the following with a statement that we have no comment as to the veracity of the accusations made below. We have no idea if the accusations below are valid, but can only report that the following accusations have been made against Aaron Ring in statements to us by others.

  • A woman contacted us to tell us that she had known Aaron Ring as a young man, from adolescence to his late teens. She was substantially younger than him and claims he sexually assaulted her on multiple occasions.
  • Several individuals claiming to have known Ring in high school have contacted us to claim that Ring was widely known as a racist, and was extremely and overtly racist against Native students.
  • A woman contacted us to tell us her now-deceased daughter claimed to have been sexually assaulted by Aaron Ring as a teenager and while Aaron Ring was on duty as a police officer. According to this woman, Ring made contact with her teen daughter and picked her up for underage consumption of alcohol, but agreed to let her go in exchange for sex acts, and threatened her with severe legal consequences if she did not comply. Her story was apparently taken and preserved by a local journalist.
  • A man contacted us to tell us that as a young person he was arrested by Aaron Ring and was physically assaulted during the arrest. The man claims that while he was in the back of the squad car Mr. Ring repeatedly and deliberately slammed on the breaks to cause injury to the him.
  • More than a dozen individuals have contacted us to report that Aaron Ring used unnecessary force.
  • A Fairbanks resident alerted us to the existence of the Henry Kettendorf case – a young man named Henry Kettendorf was shot and killed by Aaron Ring in downtown Fairbanks. The case created some controversy at the time. An eyewitness to the shooting described it very differently than the officers at the scene. A transcript was later published by reporter Gene George of “The Athabascan Report,” in which officers can be heard mocking Kettendorf, his death, and threatening to conspire against the witness to the shooting. After years of searching for this particular edition of the publication and finding it was removed from nearly every library in the state, we finally procured a copy.

There was a time when we believed, or at least wanted to, that this was all one big mistake. But the more information that surfaces about the case, the more it seems that the wrongful conviction of the Fairbanks Four was not a mistake so much as an event on a timeline of terrible deeds committed against the young and vulnerable of Alaska for minimal personal gain. We can choose to believe, and for now we will, that the actions that harmed so many were not so much intentional as they were the byproduct of a kind of thinking so ingrained that it produced great harm. If someone as a young person believes an entire race to be animalistic or below them it is not hard to imagine that deep seeded thought growing into a tree of injustice as the person’s schemas hardened and their power grew. Whether a source is corrupted or bad is impossible to say, but there is wisdom in the verse that says “Ye shall know them by their fruit.”

To change the landscape of our community or country as it relates to biased thinking inside the justice system it is not enough to attack the tree or judge the fruits, we have to ensure that the seeds of racism and bias are not sown into the minds of the next generation and find a way to articulate their visibility in our current social structures. There comes a point where an individuals intentions in a series of actions do not matter nearly as much as the fact that they were capable. In other words –  maybe didn’t know better. And if that is the case perhaps the people most responsible for the damage he did are those who surrounded him, knew better, and stayed silent.

Many children were harmed in the making of this wrongful conviction. The players in this game who moved them like pawns failed to calculate the outcome now at hand – they didn’t crush ALL of those children. Some persevered. Some found self-worth against the odds. Some of those kids didn’t fall into addiction,early graves, fold into the small town inside a small town and disappear into the familiar. Some did not bow down under shame. Some of them grew up. And they remembered.

As for Aaron Ring, accountability is not ours to assign. As is often the case, there is probably not as much peace inside the beautiful Florida home as there appears to be from outside. All we can do is wish him well, hope that if he indeed struggles with the demon of pride or racism or rage that he wrestles it and prevails, and that if he is guilty of any actions that were illegal that the justice system may find him and treat him fairly. After all, our wish is the same for him as it is for you, or for the Fairbanks Four. Justice for all.

Appeals Court Reveals Second Murder Confession in Hartman Murder

In a ruling made public today, the Alaska Appellate Court has shot down the efforts of inmate Jason Wallace to keep his confession to the murder of John Hartman out of court.

Although the exact statements of Jason Wallace related to his participation in the 1997 murder for which the Fairbanks Four were convicted and remain incarcerated have yet to be revealed to the public, the ruling confirms that Jason Wallace made statements to “an investigator working for his attorney which, if true, would tend to exculpate four defendants who were previously convicted of the same crime that J.W. described.” Wallace, currently incarcerated for another murder and represented by Fairbanks attorney Jason Gazewood who was most recently in the news after being held in contempt of court, has fought the release of his confession since the Alaska Innocence Project entered them under seal as part of a Post Conviction Relief filing based on actual innocence on behalf of the Fairbanks Four. Marvin Roberts, Eugene Vent, Kevin Pease, and George Frese were arrested and convicted of the Hartman murder in October of 1997. the four young men were convicted despite a wealth of alibi evidence and with no physical evidence of any kind linking them to the victim or each other.

Jason Wallace has been fingered as an alternate suspect in the Hartman killing since at least 2004, but a substantial statement related to his involvement proved elusive. Finally, in a sworn affidavit to the Alaska Innocence Project dated in 2008, high school acquaintance of Wallace Scott Davison detailed the statements about the killing Wallace had made to him just days after the murder. Davison was absolutely bullied and berated by the State of Alaska for coming forward.

According to oral arguments made during a recent misconduct hearing on the case, in 2011 William Holmes, a Fairbanks man serving a double life sentence in a California prison for unrelated murders, developed a relationship with correctional officer and chaplain Joseph Torquato. Holmes told Torquato about his life in Alaska and his troubled past. On December 5th, 2011 Holmes detailed to Torquato his role in the stomping murder of a young boy for which four innocent men were imprisoned. Torquato was so compelled by the statements of William Holmes that he went home the same night and used the internet to research similar murders in Alaska. He came upon the Hartman case, and the next day when he saw Holmes he asked him, “Does the name Hartman mean anything to you?” to which Holmes replied, “Do you mean John Hartman?” The inmate confirmed that the murder he had confessed to the previous day was indeed the Hartman murder. Torquato implored Holmes to come forward to Fairbanks authorities, but he refused.

The correctional officer then took the information to his supervisor and together the two composed what is now referred to in proceedings as the “Torquato Memo.” Torquato sent the written account of the confession by Holmes to the Fairbanks Police department. They forwarded it to the District Attorney’s office. Ultimately, neither party took action.

The State’s failure to disclose the confession of Holmes when first received was the subject of the July 30th hearing in Fairbanks Superior Court, where the state argued that the wording of the Code of Ethics as written in 2011 should have allowed the prosecutor to withhold the confession, although they conceded that such conduct would not be acceptable in 2014. They further argued that because the Fairbanks Four had been convicted by 2011 that they did not have any remaining constitutional due process rights.

Counsel for the Fairbanks Four argued that there were indeed state and federal constitutional rights violated through the withholding of the Holmes confession, and that the ethical obligation to disclose the confession was so clear that it was “offensive to justice” to have withheld it. Attorneys for the Fairbanks Four discussed the harm that had come to the four men’s case as a result of the State’s decision to hide the Holmes confession. Among other things, they cited the 2014 deaths of two witnesses who had heard confessions from Marquez Pennington. Had the State revealed the confession as obligated, the argued, the witnesses may have been alive to testify that Marquez Pennington made admissions in the case as well. This small comment was the first reference to yet a third confession – the confession of Marquez Pennington. 

A decision as to whether the actions of the District Attorney violated the rights of the men known as the Fairbanks Four is forthcoming from Judge Paul Lyle.

Despite the State decision to withhold the confession, it eventually came out. Holmes confessed directly to the Alaska Innocence Project. In 2012, Holmes mailed a detailed and handwritten confession to his role in the killing of John Hartman in which he named Jason Holmes, Marquez Pennington, Shelmar Johnson, and Rashan Brown. The five teenagers, according to Holmes, went out that night hoping to assault “drunk Natives” for fun, and after being unable to find the ideal victim happened upon John Hartman. According to Holmes Jason Wallace was the ringleader of the vicious assault, but all four of the other men he named attacked and killed Hartman, while Holmes served as driver. (Read the Holmes confession HERE). IMG_7092

The Holmes confession provided answers long-sought by the Fairbanks Four and their families and friends who for nearly two decades have insisted on their innocence. It also corroborated the affidavit of Scott Davison, and became the centerpiece of the 2013 Alaska Innocence Project filing for Post Conviction Relief on behalf of the men. Also contained in the filing were statements made by Jason Wallace said to “corroborate the confession of William Holmes.”

The statements by Wallace, potentially subject to attorney-client privilege, were filed under seal and it was never known if they would be made public. Jason Wallace can, and likely will, appeal the decision to release his confession to the Alaska Supreme Court, although it seems unlikely that they would opt to hear the case. The decision by the Court of Appeals only applies to the narrow issue of whether or not the judge CAN consider it for admission. It is still possible that Judge Lyle will not declare it admissible. It is possible that he may admit it and keep it confidential.

This wins a battle, but the war is long.

story1Whatever the legal meanderings of this case through the maze of a truly sick justice system, we have as much faith today as we did when we wrote our first post. The first time anyone ever used the term “Fairbanks Four” we used it with this promise beside it  –  “This is story of injustice, a plea for help, for understanding, and above all a story of faith in the power of stories, of the truth. Writing this blog is an act of faith, a testimony to the power of the truth, spoken, read. We may not be experts in journalism, in law, or many other things. But the contributors here come from Alaska, from a culture that has a long tradition of storytelling, and a belief that the truth holds incredible power. This is a long story, and we will have to tell it the old way, the slow way, in pieces as they come.”

This story is unfolding as we knew it would and know it will because we have known the ending since the beginning. This blog is still a story, told in pieces as they come. Today, this is a new piece of a long story. This movement is still a plea for help. We need you to share this story and do what you can to right a wrong.

Above all, it is still an act of faith and we have absolute faith in the good of people like you and the power of the truth.

George’s Last Night – Timeline

George’s timeline is established through his interrogation, alibi interviews, testimony at trial, and his own account. Times are verified by more than one source. One of the biggest problems George faces was his level of intoxication, and inability to be his own alibi for portions of the night.

9:30 pm – George and his girlfriend Crystal Sisto call a cab and head to the Eagle’s Hall for the wedding reception at the Eagle’s Hall. The cab ride takes perhaps 10 minutes. When they arrive there is not much going on, and they only stay a short while.

10:00 pm – George and Crystal leave the reception on foot and walk down to 2nd Avenue.

10:05 pm – A few minutes into their walk they run into Vernon Roberts, Edgar Henry, and John Folger. Crystal decides to head to the Elbow Room bar, while George, Vernon, Edgar and John decide to head to George and Crystal’s apartment.

10:30 pm – George, Edgar, Vernon, and John stop by Thrifty Liquor, a liquor store on the way to George’s apartment. There they buy two cases of Miller genuine Draft and a 750mL bottle of Bacardi rum.

11:00 pm – The group arrives back at George and Crystal’s apartment, where Antonio Sisto and Dawn Carrol are babysitting. Antonio and Dawn visit for perhaps ten minutes, then head upstairs for the night shortly after the group arrives.

11:10 pm – George, Vernon, Edgar, and John begin drinking. They play Up River, Down River (an Alaskan variation on a card drinking game) and Quarters. They drink all of the beer playing these games. George and Edgar drink the most, probably consuming ten or twelve beers each.

12:30 pm – Crystal returns home to the apartment with Patrick Henry. Crystal has been drinking, but Patrick Henry does not drink and is completely sober. Patrick went with Crystal to the apartment to get the group there and return with everyone to the reception. He wants to leave right away, but the group continues drinking for the next hour or so, George drinks several shots of Bacardi. At this point George has drank about 12 beers and at least three shots of liquor. He is 150lbs. Even by conservative measure, his Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) would be about .358 This level of intoxication can actually be lethal, and can induce comas. Blackouts become “likely” at a Blood Alcohol Content of .20. Read about BAC levels and their symptoms HERE Calculate his BAC on your own HERE

1:20-1:30am – George leaves the apartment with John Folger, Vernon Roberts, Edgar Henry, and Patrick Henry, at this point he is extremely intoxicated. He remembers walking for a short time, but blacks out between 16th and 17th Avenue. The group walks toward the reception but decides to stop to visit a friend along the way and warm up. This time was confirmed several ways. Crystal Sisto who was at the apartment estimates that the group left at 1:30. When George arrives at the hospital and is interrogated, he states that he left his apartment between 1:20-30am, and blacked out shortly after. In a police interview and court testimony the late Patrick Henry states they left the apartment at about 1:30. Vernon Roberts confirms they left as a group and cannot remember the time. This time frame is crucial because this was the time when John Hartman was assaulted.

1:30-1:40 – George, John, Vernon, Edgar, and Patrick stop by Shannon Charlie’s apartment on 11th Avenue (George has no memory of this, others involved established this time frame). They stay for a short time and head to the reception.

2:00am – George, Edgar, and Patrick Henry arrive at the Eagle’s Hall. Patrick heads inside while Edgar and George drink with a group in the parking lot. Patrick Henry says the two were so drunk he felt he had to “babysit” them. He stayed inside the reception about 3am.

3:00 am – Patrick Henry returns to the parking lot to retrieve George and Edgar, who are still there. The trio walk to the Elbow Room bar, where Patrick Henry goes inside. Despite being underage, George and Edgar follow him inside. The bartender kicks George out (this is one of the few moments George recollects from these hours, and has a brief memory of being chased out of the Elbow Room).

3:00 am  – 3:15 am –  Agnes Brockmeyer arrives at the Elbow Room to pick up her father, Johnny David. She sees George, her father, and a group “horse-playing” on the sidewalk outside the bar. George approaches her and asks for a ride home. She says he was not limping or injured at all. Agnes gives George a ride. He gets out a Midtown inexplicably and walks toward the direction of home. (George remembers getting a ride with Johnny David, and remembers being at Midtown. He references both during his interrogation). Vernon Roberts confirms that he parted ways with George at Elbow Room around 3am. Vernon walks back to George’s apartment with Patrick Henry, John Folger, and Edgar Henry. The three do not know that George caught a ride with Agnes, and are concerned that he is missing, given his level of intoxication. Vernon and Patrick Henry both state that George did not have an injured foot at this time. Three witnesses confirm his foot was not injured. This is important because the prosecution will allege that he had badly injured his foot kicking John Hartman at 1:30am, which would mean he should have been injured at this time.

4:00 am (about) – George arrives back at home where all of the original group are at his apartment (Crystal, Patrick, Edgar, John, Vernon) and have been joined by Crystal’s cousin Rachel, who brought another bottle of liquor. George begins drinking again at the apartment and remembers drinking several shots. He again blacks out and does not remember anything until waking up the next afternoon. Crystal states that during this time, George and Vernon got in a wrestling match over the last cigarette that started lighthearted and became a bit serious. She believes this is how George injured his foot. He has not memory of this time, but presumably kept drinking. (Others state that he continued drinking, slept a brief while, stopped by another apartment for a few beers, and then slept briefly in the afternoon at the apartment).

Afternoon – George wakes up with severe pain in his left foot. So severe he is at first unable to walk, and crawls down the stairs, where many of last nights guests remain. At this point Antonio Sisto asks him how he hurt his foot. Although he does not remember how he hurt his foot, he tells Antonio he hurt it in a fight. “I actually wanted it to be from a fight,” George said, “I wanted some sort of social praise. Little did I know that when I told the same story to the receptionist at the hospital that there was a fifteen year old boy in the Intensive Care Unit.”  After deciding that the pain is extreme and his foot is likely broken he calls for a ride to the hospital.

3:30 pm – George checks into the E.R. with an injured foot. When the receptionist asks him how he hurt his foot, he tells her he hurt it in a fight. Although there is no record of George’s Blood Alcohol Level (a Fairbanks Memorial Hospital Nurse confirms that it is standard practice to take a BAC reading in intoxicated patients), if we assume that he only drank two more beers and four more shots of liquor (his companions think he drank even more), his BAC level would be .314 when he checked into the hospital.

HOW GEORGE BECOMES A SUSPECT

When George checks into the hospital he tells the receptionist the same story he told his Antonio: that he hurt his foot fighting. Pretty tough-Indian thing to say, but not true. He thought it was a cool thing to say, made him seem tough, and certainly cooler than “I was so drunk I don’t know.”

Diane Hill has been upstairs, performing a sexual assault exam on John Hartman. When she comes down she is assigned a patient.. In a happenstance that will change the rest of his life, Diane Hill is assigned George Frese as her next patient. The triage nurse tells nurse Diane Hill when she hands over the chart that a drunk Native kid is in with a hurt foot and says he hurt it in a fight.

She testifies during trial that when she went into room where George was waiting to have his foot looked at she entered and they had the following exchange, which persuaded her that he was involved with the beating of John Hartman “I understand that you were in a fight downtown last night, and kicked someone, and hurt your foot, is that right? And he answered Yes.”

Diane Hill then calls the Fairbanks Police and says she believes one of the murders is there as a patient. George is transferred, according to his girlfriend Crystal, to an odd and secure room. According to Crystal the police show up and begin aggressively interrogating and threatening George for some time before his interrogation begins.

Read about his interrogation HERE, including links to transcripts of the interrogations.

SOME NOTES ON GEORGE’S TIMELINE

When George said he was blacked out of periods of time, the police insist that it is SCIENTIFICALLY impossible to black out and indicate that he will be charged with sexual assault and murder if he continues to insist that it is the case. Read about the science of blackouts HERE. There are plenty of articles about the science or blackouts, so feel free to post any others you find!

In a nutshell, over consumption of alcohol can block neurons and inhibit the formation of memory, meaning that the memories are not there “deep in the brain” as the detectives insist, but actually were never created, so try as a person might, the memories cannot be accessed because they are not there.

George’s level of intoxication was such that he could not be his own alibi. However, his level of intoxication is such that it also seems unlikely he could participate in an assault. There are significant witnesses who were willing to provide alibi testimony. Many were ignored by the police AND defense council (see affidavit of Agnes Brockmeyer below who tried to contact both the police and attorney). Some, most notably Patrick Henry, Edgar Henry, and Antonio Sisto were threatened, lied to, and made to feel that if they continued to provide an alibi that they would be charged with this or another crime. Although George Frese’s attorney did not call any alibi witnesses, Patrick Henry testified to timeline in a different trial.

It is also worth noting that George says he left his house at 1:30am during his interrogation. Crystal also makes this statement to the police, and so does Patrick Henry. They state this time BEFORE even the police knew the time of John Hartman’s beating, and without a chance to speak to each other and “create” a timeline, as the prosecution would constantly hint at trial.