• Forecast
  • News Tip
  • Categories
Temperature Precipitation
Estimated read time
2m 7s

Supporters in Fairbanks call on Gov. Walker to ‘Free the Four’

By Daniella Rivera Photojournalist: Emily Landeen - 10:16 PM December 11, 2015
FAIRBANKS –

Fairbanks Four supporters braved temperatures near -15 degrees Friday, calling on Governor Walker to “Free the Four.”

On a day they thought they would be celebrating the men’s freedom after 18 years, supporters of the Fairbanks Four rallied outside the Rabinowitz Courthouse in Fairbanks instead.

They held up signs calling for exoneration and chanted, “Free the Fairbanks Four!”

Judge Paul Lyle cancelled Friday’s hearing, which supporters believed would have released the Fairbanks Four, because he’s challenging the deal prosecutors offered the four men.

In order to go free, the settlement deal required Kevin Pease, George Frese, Eugene Vent, and Martin Roberts to withdraw their claims of innocence and agree not to sue for wrongful imprisonment. The four were convicted in the murder of 15-year-old John Hartman in 1997.

“They want to cover themselves,” Fairbanks Four supporter, Sherry Byers said. “The Police Department, lots of people have made huge huge mistakes and they’ve had egg on their face for a long, long time, and they know we all know it!”

Judge Lyle released an order saying he doesn’t believe he can legally release the men if they withdraw their claims of innocence, and Thursday gave attorneys on both sides 10 days to prepare an argument to convince him that the deal is legal.

Meanwhile, supporters gathered for a peaceful demonstration Friday to plead and pray for the four men to be at home this Christmas.

“For all that we thought was gonna happen that hasn’t happened yet, but will happen, we wait,” prayed retired St. Matthews Episcopalian Reverend Scott Fisher.

For the first time, demonstrators directly called on Alaska Gov. Bill Walker to intervene. “We voted you in, we can easily vote you out,” one protester yelled.

George Frese’s cousin, Misty Nickoli, had a message for the Governor, “We the people are the state of Alaska, you simply represent us and you need to gather your people and do the right thing. Today.”

Walker’s Office released a statement saying he is considering pardoning the four men. If he does, it will take 120 days before it goes into effect.

If a judge rules in favor of the four, the men could be out in 10 days.

Supporters argue the terms of the settlement indicate justice is not the Department of Law’s first priority.

“I don’t know why they’re so concerned about money,” said Connie Sommer, who’s supported the four for the last 18 years. “They have fought this issue for so long and it stems down to money. We can’t take money with us anywhere when we leave this earth.”

Latest Stories

  • On-Air

    Inside the Gates: Change of command for the Army’s 4/25

    by Lauren Maxwell on Mar 24, 20:55

    A change of command ceremony on JBER Friday morning welcomed a new leader to the nation’s only Arctic airborne combat brigade. Col. Paul Larson assumed command of the Army’s 4/25 Airborne Brigade Combat Team. It’s the first assignment in Alaska for Larson, who spent the last six months in Afghanistan. When asked about the challenges […]

  • Lifestyle

    UAA unveils Alaska’s first lactation pod for nursing mothers

    by Shannon Ballard on Mar 24, 20:37

    Nursing mothers at the University of Alaska Anchorage now have a dedicated, private space to feed their babies or pump breast milk. A new lactation pod is located on the first floor of the student union, and is the first of its kind in the entire state. It features seating, shelves, electrical outlets and USB […]

  • Politics

    28 years later, Exxon Valdez still casts shadow as Alaskans weigh in on oil tax change

    by Liz Raines on Mar 24, 19:44

    Friday marked the 28th anniversary of the Exxon Valdez oil spill — and the end of a long week of debate in Juneau on big policy changes for the oil industry. Tensions leftover from the historic event have spilled over into a battle on oil tax credits. While lawmakers are welcoming of the revenue that oil […]

  • Sports

    Results: ASAA 3A, 4A high school basketball semifinals

    by Dave Goldman on Mar 24, 18:49

    Results from Friday’s semifinal games at the Alaska Airlines Center. Please check back; this story will be updated as games are completed. 3A Boys Semifinal Monroe Catholic 42 – Valdez 40 The Rams held off the Buccaneers’ late rally to advance to the title game. Valdez’ slow start didn’t help as it went scoreless in the […]

  • News

    Good Samaritan cleans graffiti from park strip train

    by Lauren Maxwell on Mar 24, 17:55

    ANCHORAGE — A good Samaritan has helped to remove the graffiti from the train that sits on the Delaney Park Strip, and it wasn’t the person who first volunteered to do the job in the first place. The graffiti was discovered Wednesday morning. Anchorage park planner Maeve Lavtar said she had instructed city maintenance crews […]

  • Sports

    Sitka basketball team returns to Anchorage after receiving national honor

    by Dave Leval on Mar 24, 17:08

      The Sitka Wolves basketball team are champions, and it has nothing to do with shooting percentage or rebounds. They made a return to Anchorage this week during the state basketball tournament. While their quest for a state title ended after a first round loss to Monroe Catholic, the Wolves were reminded of a much […]

  • Politics

    Young hails demise of health bill, wants more work on issue

    by Associated Press on Mar 24, 16:00

    The longest-serving Republican in the U.S. House says he would have voted against a GOP health care bill had it been brought to a vote. U.S. Rep. Don Young of Alaska says it was not good legislation. He says it would have hurt people on Medicaid and did not address issues with high costs. The […]

  • DayBreak

    Mic Check in the Morning: Rhythm Future Quartet

    by Daybreak Staff on Mar 24, 13:15

    Keeping the genre of gypsy jazz alive, the acoustic ensemble Rhythm Future Quartet will be touring Alaska for two weeks. Their first stop is downtown Anchorage. From there they will cross the state, going from Kodiak to Skagway. According to violinist Jason Anick, gypsy jazz is a style of music that was pioneered in France during […]