The Fairbanks District Attorney’s office did not put much credence in information undermining the convictions of four men for a 1997 murder.
That was clear from testimony yesterday at a hearing being held to consider new evidence that could exonerate George Frese, Kevin Pease, Marvin Roberts and Eugene Vent, men known as the Fairbanks Four, convicted of the 1997 beating death of John Hartman.
Former assistant district attorney Scott Mattern was questioned about his handling of 2011 statements from former Fairbanks resident, California prisoner William Holmes, pinning the Hartman killing on drug ring partner Jason Wallace, a man who testified against him in an unrelated murder case.
Mattern says the men’s criminal history undermines the claim.
“You’ve got Holmes pointing the finger at the guy who helped lock him up for life,” Mattern said.
Mattern says he asked Fairbanks police to follow up on the Holmes, Wallace story.
That never happened, and Mattern concedes he didn’t check back.
“This isn’t something that is going to cause me to drop everything else I’m doing and ride this,” Mattern said.
Fairbanks Four attorneys pointed out that research would have shown Holmes and Wallace were in Fairbanks at the time of the Hartman attack, and other information lending credibility to their possible involvement.
Holmes is serving double life sentences for unrelated killings and has already testified about the Hartman attack at this month hearing.
Wallace, who’s also serving a long sentence for a drug related killing, has been granted immunity from prosecution for the Hartman murder, in exchange for his testimony.
He’s scheduled to take the stand Friday.
Meanwhile yesterday, a Fairbanks man testified that he was attacked on a downtown street by the Fairbanks Four shortly before the Hartman beating.
In a video deposition, Paul Solomon says he did not recognize the young men until seeing their pictures in the paper about a month later.
“I’m not saying they’re the ones that killed that kid,” Solomon said. “I’m saying they’re the ones that jumped me in broad daylight.”
Solomon says he reported the attack to police before he identified the men. He says he didn’t talk to law enforcement about it again until telling an Alaska State Trooper in 2013.