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Alaska Dept. of Law releases specifics of Fairbanks Four deal

By Eric Ruble Photojournalist: Carolyn Hall - 12:21 PM December 12, 2015

On Friday, the Alaska Department of Law released the full details of the agreement between the state and Fairbanks Four. The agreement, 106 pages in length, outlines the conditions of the men’s release. In exchange for their freedom, they would have to make several concessions.

If new evidence was found after their release, they would “voluntarily and knowingly waive” their right to “a speedy trial, or double jeopardy in the event of retrial.”

The agreement also listed 50 different government entities — at state, city and borough levels — that the men could not sue after their release.

The deal states, each man “unequivocally releases and discharges the [aforementioned entities] from any and all claims whether presently known, unknown, or discovered in the future.”

While Judge Paul Lyle’s order said the men would have to withdraw their claims of innocence, a statement issued by the defense attorneys said that isn’t the case. The men would have to abandon their post conviction relief suit, which the defense says doesn’t equate to withdrawing innocence.

On Thursday, Lyle canceled a hearing scheduled for Saturday because he believed he could not legally release men who are still considered guilty by the state.

The state and men have nine days remaining to either convince judge Lyle the agreement is legal or rewrite it to make it approvable.

In a separate notice, dated Friday, the attorneys for Eugene Vent, George Frese and Kevin Pease are calling for the court to “correct” the wording that the Fairbanks Four members would be “withdrawing their claims of innocence” by accepting the deal.

“Petitioners have maintained, and will always maintain, that they are innocent of the crimes for which they were convicted,” the notice reads.

The Department of Law also released the following statement Friday:

The parties have entered into an agreement to bring an end to this litigation and allow the community of Fairbanks to begin the healing process. Documents relating to the agreement have been shared with the Fairbanks court. The court has requested additional briefing on a legal issue. The Department of Law will offer no further comment while it awaits the court’s ruling.

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