Jason Wallace is the man whom a litany of witnesses have testified in the last weeks is actually responsible for the brutal 1997 stomping death of fifteen-year-old Jonathan Hartman. Many, including fellow killer and crime partner William Holmes, along with Wallace’s own public defender, and the Alaska State Troopers who investigated the case following accusations of wrongful conviction, have fingered Jason Wallace as the aggressor in the unprovoked fatal assault that left one child dead and a community in an uproar. Four other men, known as the Fairbanks Four, have spent the last eighteen years in prison for the crime. The four have maintained their innocence even in the face of plea deals and offers of parole, and with the help of the Alaska Innocence Project were able to begin an extremely robust case a few weeks ago arguing for their innocence and the guilt of another group of men. Jason Wallace testified during the 19th and 20th day of proceedings.
Despite the incredible evidence of their innocence, and in the face of incredible public outcry, the State of Alaska continues to fight to uphold the convictions at all costs. In the most controversial and despicable strategic move yet the State of Alaska granted immunity to Jason Wallace in exchange for his testimony. Unlike William Holmes, who was given a lie detector to prove he was telling the truth about killing Hartman (which he of course passed) or Marvin Roberts who was given a lie detector to prove he as telling the truth about his innocence (which he of course passed), Wallace was not given a lie detector test, not one witness corroborated his testimony, and there has been no indication that the truth was ever something the State of Alaska wanted from Wallace. Instead, Wallace was brought in to lie, and lie he did. Even the immunity deal itself demonstrates that the State of Alaska knows Wallace killed Hartman. An innocent man would not need immunity against prosecution of a murder in order to discuss it. Without the immunity, Wallace previously plead the 5th, and refused to answer questions
We predicted Wallace’s testimony and the circumstances that led up to it the day we learned he would testify. It is getting wearisome to be right about such terrible things. Wallace did exactly what we predicted he would do, but with less skill than we feared, and more show-boating of his deranged mind than we expected.
Jason Wallace sauntered into the courtroom in a gray suit, a purple button-up shirt, and a garish bow tie, in an immediate contrast in demeanor and appearance to the Fairbanks Four, who were not allowed to wear street clothes from the jail but arrived in prison uniforms and changed into modest white shirts immediately before their testimony. It was clear from the moment he entered the court room that Wallace was enjoying the perks of being a state witness.
Wallace took the stand, and special prosecutor Adrienne Bachman, who stated that she had “no idea” what Wallace would testify and denied all accusations of having negotiated his testimony and immunity below board, opened Wallace’s questioning with an affected speech on the importance of telling the truth.
“You have nothing to lose here unless you provide false testimony. Those are the rules. If you provide false testimony you can be prosecuted for the false testimony,” she said.
Wallace smiled, looked back at her, and said “Okay.”
Wallace had plenty reasons to smile. His testimony guaranteed he would never be prosecuted for killing John Hartman, despite nearly a dozen witnesses whose testimony implicated him in the crime, including one fellow participant and four individuals he is reported to have independently confessed to. And the chances of the same entity that granted him immunity for his lies attacking him for those lies is slim at best, and Wallace knew all of that as he took the stand smiling. Wallace was in comfortable territory.
The convicted killer in the fancy suit and bow tie brought with him into the courtroom a long history of manipulating the system for personal gain – to achieve immunity, intimidate those around him, and a criminal history so disturbing but clinically predictable that any armchair psychologist could diagnose him as psychopathic.
Psychopaths have defective emotional ranges – they do not experience normal levels of guilt, shame, or fear. They also do not attach to or relate to other human beings in a normal fashion. Psychopaths experience very transitory and self-serving attachments and tend to look at human beings as objects and therefore can engage in extreme violence without emotional upset and in fact may enjoy such acts. Research consistently demonstrates that psychopaths are often participants in instrumental (calculated) violence as opposed to impulsive violence, and are far more likely than a typical offender to re-offend, and contrary to popular belief psychopaths are very likely to participate in group violence – typically as ringleaders. Participation in group violence allows psychopaths to defer blame, and provides another set of ready victims, as psychopaths enjoy exercising control. Psychopaths are sophisticated manipulators. Jason Wallace’s entire biography and criminal history indicates that he is a psychopath, and indeed his contrived testimony, odd demeanor, and apparent enjoyment of the process further indicate that he is indeed a psychopath and that the State of Alaska has very willingly made him a partner in an effort to commit the continued crime of wrongful imprisonment of the Fairbanks Four.
Wallace took the stand and proceeded to deny knowing anyone who testified against him and knowing anything about the Hartman murder. According to Wallace, he did not know any of the people who testified against or about him. He claimed he did not know and had never heard of Scott Davison or Matt Ellsworth, and even denied knowing his own attorney investigator. Wallace did not admit a relationship to anyone identified from his past against him besides his former co-defendant William Holmes. Wallace testified that he had never heard of the Hartman murder despite it being one of the highest profiles crimes in the community he lived in, until he was accused of it some two years ago. Wallace insisted that every witness who implicated him was lying and that he alone was telling the truth.
The good news about the Wallace testimony is that Wallace did not tell clever lies. His testimony was so dishonest that it was more a study in the psychology of a depraved killer and an equally sick justice system than it was information relevant to proceedings.
Under cross-examination by Robert Bundy, probono attorney with international firm Dorsey and Whitney, Wallace was defiant, and consistently threw out ten-dollar words confidently but with absolute disregard to their meaning. He reiterated that he was a witness for the state because he “cannot walk up here upon my volition.” When the petitioner’s attorneys brought up that Wallace had invoked his right against self-incrimination and refused to cooperate without immunity, Wallace responded that was because “you (Bundy) are doing, and all your constituents will, make me look like a terrible person.” Yet he said it all with the animated confidence of a person who cannot feel remorse nor grasp his own short comings. Jason Wallace barely faltered because unlike a normal person psychopaths do not experience the shame and fear associated with lying.
Wallace’s swagger and demeanor were striking. He smiled and giggled, scoffed and performed. As cross-examination threatened his composure a few times he looked toward his attorney Jason Gazewood as an actor asking a director for a line.
When Bundy confronted Wallace with inconsistencies in his stories (and there were many – from denying a car accident and previous arrests to lies about high school attendance), Wallace’s confidence faded some.
Bundy confronted him with the details of one of is brutal crimes – “Teacka was sleeping when you entered her house, wasn’t she? And then you hit her in the head with a hammer, again and again, didn’t you?”
Wallace simply answered an unemotional, “Yes.”
Cross-examination underscored the obvious – Jason Wallace’s testimony was false, and just like in his previous calculated immunity deals, his testimony was created simply for his own personal gain without regard to anyone or anything else. Cross established that Wallace struck his first immunity deals under false pretenses, pretending to be worried about his then-wife, and that those immunity deals protected him from prosecution in arson, conspiracy to commit murder, including the murder of an eight year old little girl, attempted murder, and more, in exchange for providing testimony favorable to the state. The state would not allow Wallace to answer whether or not he had been promised their support in his parole efforts, although it is widely known that this level of cooperation with state officials could win him the earliest possible parole date of 2025. It was clear that Wallace brokered immunity deals after he brutally killed a woman with a hammer, stabbed a man with a screwdriver, started a full apartment complex on fire, and was arrested on his way to kill an entire family. Those immunity deals all led to the outcome Wallace wanted – the potential for early parole. Despite having committed murders in his twenties that should surely see a person sentenced to life, Wallace could see parole at 45 years old. A conviction in the Hartman murder would destroy any hope of Wallace ever being released, and even strong implications of guilt could interfere with his parole. As Bundy continued to ask questions a picture emerged of Wallace negotiating yet another immunity deal to not only avoid consequences but achieve early parole.
We cannot overstate how incredibly disgusting this all is. John Hartman and his family deserve vastly more respect than for the possibility of Wallace’s conviction to be tossed aside as if it were not more significant than a used tissue. Those who bravely came forward to testify against Wallace ought to be able to live out their lives knowing he will never get out of prison,The State of Alaska has thrown away any regard for the human beings involved in this case with as much regard as Wallace showed when he killed a child, a woman, a friend, and plotted to kill a family. It is hard to imagine a more disturbed system or person than the Alaska justice system and Jason Wallace as they were shown in court. And at the end of the day, Jason Wallace is what he is. If someone sets a rabid dog loose in a playground the dog is not to blame for what comes next. The one holding the leash, the one who knows better, the one who wanted this pet – that is the State of Alaska, and they are more responsible for what comes next out of Wallace than even he is, because they have seen his nature and chose to make the deal.
An action as depraved as the one seen in Alaska courts through the immunity deal with Wallace deserves to be responded to. We will end this post with a series of promises, and assure you we will keep them all.
- We will see than any elected official who has accountability in this decision does not see re-election, with special attention to Governor Bill Walker who appears to have forgotten entirely that he would not be Governor without the Native vote.
- We will fight until we prevail to see that Jason Wallace does not get any form of early release. We will do everything we can to see the illegal, disgusting immunity deal revoked and justice for John Hartman. We will see Wallace prosecuted for perjury.
- We will stand up for the witnesses who fear for their lives, and to whom the state through this immunity action very resoundingly refused to safeguard. Testifying against a man who killed a child is THE RIGHT THING TO DO. We will see that you do not come to harm for doing the right thing.
- We will ensure the department of law takes action to investigate the conduct of the attorneys, prosecutors, elected officials, attorney general, Alaska Department of law, and every individual from the original case and the present case who behaved in violation of the law or their respective codes of conduct. We will see that those people are held accountable to the fullest extent possible. To be clear, we are talking about Aaron Ring, Jim Geier, Jeff O’Bryant, Scott Mattern, Adrienne Bachman, Jason Gazewood, and anyone who assisted them. We will hold you accountable.Someday, when other professionals consider engaging in similar conduct, you will be the cautionary tale.
- If it takes us 18 more years, and our children 18 more, and 18 more, and their children more years than we can fathom, we will correct this injustice and do what we can to stop the corruption that destroys lives, steals children, and goes unanswered. We will answer it. And we will not lose, because we raise our children to fight, and you raise yours to lie and hide.
- We will love life. We will not be bitter, and we will not be angry. We will never let this kind of thing cast a shadow over us and in fact, we will love the light all the more for having glimpsed your darkness. And there, we will find gratitude for what injustice has shown us – the beauty of humanity and the importance of justice.