It’s a fight that reaches far beyond Fairbanks. Monday evening at rush hour, dozens of Alaskans turned out to rally in support of the “Fairbanks Four” in Anchorage.
Demonstrators said it’s time for Gov. Bill Walker to do something, and they’re trying to put “friendly pressure” on him to pardon and free the four men — Eugene Vent, George Frese, Marvin Roberts and Kevin Pease — accused of a murder many say they did not commit.
“I hope he hears that a lot of Alaskans are supporting the four and we want them home for the holidays,” said rally organizer Agatha Erickson.
Supporters thought it was going to happen on Friday. Prosecutors offered the Fairbanks Four a deal — withdraw their claims of innocence and agree not to sue the city or the state, and they would get to walk free. The judge stopped the deal because he didn’t think it was legal.
“I was very disappointed you know, just brought me to tears because I was so happy and you know, I’m sure everybody was,” said Rose Albert, Robert’s cousin, “That was just terrible. How dare they insult our intelligence like that.”
Attorneys for the four have since clarified that deal. They said they will maintain their innocence, but they do have to give up a civil lawsuit to prove their innocence.
Alaskans said they are tired of all the legal rhetoric. They want the Governor to step in and pardon the men.
“He has the power to do it, I mean, I think the defense has definitely shown that they’re innocent so what’s the hold up?” Erickson said.
They said they’ll keep making noise until all of the Fairbanks Four are home.
The governor’s office has said Walker is considering pardoning the Fairbanks Four, but if he does, it would take 120 days to go into effect.
The state and the defense have until Saturday to convince the judge their deal is legal. If he agrees, the men could go free soon after.