SMASHED WINDOWS WITH A BAT, THREATENED DRIVER
One of the members of a group of men who were labeled the Fairbanks Four is now on an ankle monitor after turning himself in on Wednesday on a felony assault warrant and a DUI charge for a separate incident.
Kevin Pease is accused of swinging a bat at a woman on Dec. 7, 2018, smashing the windows of her car and menacing her with the bat. Pease also was charged with an August incident of driving under the influence, and he failed to show up in court for that misdemeanor charge. A third charge relates to violating conditions of release.
The assault charge is not being classified as a domestic violence incident, but the two were acquaintances.
Superior Court Judge Michael McConahy on Wednesday allowed Pease to be released into the community on $2,000 bail, but he must wear an ankle monitor. Pease is also under curfew at his home under the supervision of a third-party custodian approved by the court.
Pease and three men spent 18 years in jail after being conviction in the 1997 murder of 15-year-old John Hartman of Fairbanks. The men maintained their innocence.
Under Gov. Walker, a deal was made in 2015 with the four and they were released. Then-Attorney General Craig Richards said at the time that the outcome was not an exoneration. The deal simply threw out the convictions of four, three of whom were Alaska Native and the other American Indian.
“In this settlement, the four defendants agreed they were properly and validly investigated, prosecuted and convicted,” Richards said in a news release. “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.”
Richards said in 2015 he believed the “resolution of this matter at this time is in the State’s best interest.”
The Innocence Project maintains the men were, in fact, exonerated. The media and many Native leaders strongly pushed for their release, and their case became a liberal cause du jour, with strong overtones of alleged systemic racism and injustice to Native people.
Family members of John Hartman were shocked at the deal in 2015, and John’s brother said the State had caved under political pressure.
As a part of the deal, the men agreed not to sue any of the government entities. They have since filed a civil suit against the City of Fairbanks and former Fairbanks police officers. That case was dismissed in October, 2018.
A story about their original confessions, which never were given much press, was published in Must Read Alaska in 2017 and is linked here for background: