Begich Calls for Federal Review of ‘Fairbanks Four’ Case
Joins AFN and TCC to Request Federal Involvement
Frustrated by the State of Alaska’s ongoing delays in its review of the conviction of Alaskans George Frese, Kevin Pease, Marvin Roberts and Eugene Vent—widely known as the “Fairbanks Four”—U.S. Senator Mark Begich has requested a formal review of the case by the Civil Rights Division of the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ).
In his request to DOJ, Begich cites unresolved allegations of “prosecutorial misconduct and coercion, along with evidence uncovered in recent years that includes a confession to the crime by a different individual.” Begich noted he sent a request for state review to Alaska Governor Sean Parnell over a year ago, but that the State has yet to demonstrate it has conducted any meaningful additional inquiry or review.
“It is time to for a thorough review of the circumstances of this case by an impartial authority,” said Begich. “The State has requested delay after delay of its review and has attempted to keep information from being publicly disclosed. I agree with the Alaska Federation of Natives and the Tanana Chiefs Conference that this case requires federal review, and that is why I’ve made the formal request of the DOJ. We must be certain that those who are guilty of the brutal murder of John Hartman in 1997 have been brought to justice.”
Begich noted that though murders are typically investigated and prosecuted by state or local authorities, the troubling circumstances in this case demand additional assessment. In addition to his frustration at inaction from the State, Begich also felt compelled to request a federal review based on substantial questions raised by the Alaska Innocence Project, a legal non-profit focused on exonerating those who have been wrongfully convicted.