Men file wrongful imprisonment suit against Fairbanks

  • Thursday, December 28, 2017 9:38pm
  • News

FAIRBANKS (AP) — All four men who were imprisoned in the beating death of a 15-year-old boy have filed federal civil rights lawsuits against the city of Fairbanks and four police officers.

George Frese, Kevin Pease and Eugene Vent jointly filed the wrongful imprisonment suit last week after Marvin Roberts filed a similar suit earlier this month, the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner reported.

The four men were convicted on murder charges in 1999 for the death of John Hartman in 1997. The men spent nearly two decades in prison until new evidence in the case surfaced.

While awaiting a judge’s ruling in a post-conviction relief case on evidence that other people were responsible for Hartman’s death, the men signed a settlement agreement with the state in December 2015.

In exchange for agreeing not to sue the state, city or people involved in the case, the men were released from prison and their convictions were erased. Roberts was out on parole at the time.

The new suit requests that a judge declare the release-dismissal agreement as unenforceable, claiming the men were coerced into signing it. The suit also claims wrongdoing by police officers who investigated the case.

In response to Roberts’ lawsuit, Fairbanks City Attorney Paul Ewers previously said that the city had a duty to defend employees’ official actions, and he expected to deny most of the allegations.

The new suit was filed by the three men without an attorney, but they said their next step will be to seek representation.

“People that did wrong will be held accountable, and hopefully, to the Hartman family, that they finally get the closure they deserve,” Vent said. “We did 18 years for something we didn’t do. Us being out is not the conclusion to the story that it should be.”

More in News

Raymond Bradbury preserves his salmon while dipnetting in the mouth of the Kenai River on Saturday, July 10, 2021. (Camille Botello / Peninsula Clarion)
Kenai River dipnetting closed; Kasilof to close Sunday

The Kasilof River dipnet fishery is reportedly slow, but fish are being caught

Silver salmon hang in the Seward Boat Harbor during the 2018 Seward Silver Salmon Derby. (Photo courtesy of Seward Chamber of Commerce)
Seward Silver Salmon derby runs Aug. 13-21

Last year’s derby featured 1,800 contestants competing across eight days

Rayna Reynolds tends to her cow at the 4-H Agriculture Expo in Soldotna, Alaska on Aug. 5, 2022. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)
Animals take the stage at 4-H expo

Contestants were judged on the quality of the animal or showmanship of the handler

Emily Matthews and Andy Kowalczyk pose outside the Center for Alaskan Coastal Studies headquarters on Friday, July 29, 2022, in Homer, Alaska. (Photo by Charlie Menke/Homer News)
AmeriCorps volunteers aid Center for Alaskan Coastal Studies

The 10-month commitment pushed them outside of comfort zones

People gather in Ninilchik, Alaska, on Friday, Aug. 5, 2022, for Salmonfest, an annual event that raises awareness about salmon-related causes. (Camille Botello/Peninsula Clarion)
All about the salmon

Fish, love and music return to Ninilchik

Alaska State Veterinarian Dr. Bob Gerlach gives a presentation on Avian Influenza Virus at the 4-H Agriculture Expo in Soldotna, Alaska, on Aug. 5, 2022. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)
State looks to outreach, education amid bird flu outbreak

Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza is spreading in Alaska

Fencing surrounds the 4th Avenue Theatre in Anchorage, Alaska, on Wednesday, Aug. 3, 2022. Demolition will begin in August 2022 on the once-opulent downtown Anchorage movie theater designed by the architect of Hollywood’s famed Pantages Theatre. The 4th Avenue Theatre with nearly 1,000 seats opened in 1947, and it withstood the second most powerful earthquake ever recorded. (AP Photo/Mark Thiessen)
Efforts fail to save historic Anchorage theater from demolition

Anchorage entrepreneur Austin “Cap” Lathrop opened the 4th Avenue Theatre, with nearly 1,000 seats, on May 31, 1947

Mimi Israelah, center, cheers for Donald Trump inside the Alaska Airlines Center in Anchorage, Alaska, during a rally Saturday July 9, 2022. Two Anchorage police officers violated department policy during a traffic stop last month when Israelah, in town for a rally by former President Donald Trump showed a “white privilege card” instead of a driver’s license and was not ticketed. (Bill Roth/Anchorage Daily News via AP, File)
Alaska officers violated policy in ‘white privilege’ stop

The top of the novelty card reads: “White Privilege Card Trumps Everything.”

Ashlyn O’Hara / Peninsula Clarion file 
Alaska LNG Project Manager Brad Chastain presents information about the project during a luncheon at the Kenai Chamber Commerce and Visitor Center on July 6.
Local leaders voice support for LNG project

Local municipalities are making their support for the Alaska LNG Project known

Most Read