2 jailhouse informants say Fairbanks 4 talked on crime

Members of the Fairbanks Four made incriminating statements in jail. That’s according to two men who served time with George Frese, Kevin Pease, Marvin Roberts and Eugene Vent, the men known as the Fairbanks Four, challenging their convictions for the October 1997 beating death of John Hartman.

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John Hartman’s older brother Chris Kelly testified Thursday at an ongoing post-conviction relief hearing for the Fairbanks Four. Kelly recounted confronting one of the men convicted of beating his brother to death, Eugene Vent, in jail shortly after the crime.

“He said, ‘We didn’t know it was your little brother.’ And I said, ‘I don’t care whose little brother it is, you don’t go doing that type of stuff to people.’ And I went off on them and the guards came in and took me out of there,” Kelly said.

Kelly adds that testimony heard this month indicating others are responsible for his brother’s death, have not swayed him.

Other testimony Thursday included recorded comments from another man who served time with members of the Fairbanks Four. James Wright recounts the men making note of newspaper articles about the Hartman murder.

“And they would laugh and they would glorify the fact that, ‘oh, we’re in the paper again. Look.’ You know, it was like they were proud of being accepted as murderers into the prison society or whatever,” Wright said.

Also Thursday, former Fairbanks police detective Leonard Brown testified about the lack on any physical evidence tying the Fairbanks Four to the Hartman beating, emphasizing that Hartman only bled a small amount, and that cold weather prevented fingerprints.