Law Dept. insists Fairbanks Four not ‘exonerated’

The state’s Department of Law maintains the Fairbanks Four were not exonerated in the settlement, or completely cleared of blame.

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John Skidmore is the director of criminal division of the state’s Department of Law.

“The agreement or settlement that the state reached yesterday with the men in the Fairbanks Four case was that they were admitting that they were properly and validly convicted when the convictions were entered back in 1996. And it was only new evidence that suggested that it would be difficult to convict them if we were to try them again.”

Skidmore says if significant information is found that suggests the men were involved, they could be tried again. However they can’t be tried based on current evidence. He says the recent litigation surrounding the case was bad for the state.

“We took this action to try and allow the community to come together and begin a healing process by putting an end to all this litigation. But the Department of Law’s point, and I hope that others are able to respect this, is the original convictions were properly and validly obtained. The lead detective, Aaron Ring, did nothing wrong. The Fairbanks Police Department did nothing wrong. The people who prosecuted the case did nothing wrong.”

Gov. Bill Walker issued a statement yesterday saying he was pleased with the agreement.

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After being told innumerable times that maybe she asked too many questions, Anne Hillman decided to pursue a career in journalism. She's reported from around Alaska since 2007 and briefly worked as a community radio journalism trainer in rural South Sudan. ahillman (at) alaskapublic (dot) org | 907.550.8447  |  About Anne

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