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Press Release

Settlement Reached in Litigation with Four Men Convicted in John Hartman's Death

December 17, 2015

(Fairbanks, AK) – Today, Attorney General Craig Richards settled the ongoing litigation with Eugene Vent, Marvin Roberts, George Frese and Kevin Pease.  The four men convicted for John Hartman’s 1997 death agreed that the original convictions were properly and validly obtained. The state agreed that, if allowed to proceed on their new evidence claim, a court could find a basis to order a new trial.  Judge Lyle accepted this resolution and vacated the convictions. All four men have been discharged from the custody and control of the Department of Corrections.   

This is not an exoneration.  In this settlement, the four defendants agreed they were properly and validly investigated, prosecuted and convicted. Nonetheless, in light of the new evidence produced at the recent hearing, this settlement is just that, a compromise by the parties in a hard fought legal battle. This compromise reflects the Attorney General's recognition that if the defendants were retried today it is not clear under the current state of the evidence that they would be convicted.

“As the state’s chief law enforcement officer, I believe in the integrity of the criminal justice system,” said Attorney General Richards.  “I am committed to seeking justice for all parties involved and believe that resolution of this matter at this time is in the state’s best interest. I recognize that some individuals will be understandably upset by this decision.  However, the notion of justice is specific to each case.  In this case, I have determined that justice is best served by ending this litigation.” 

For more information please contact Kaci Schroeder at (907) 465-3600.

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