Arlo Olson, 1977-2017

ArloWe were deeply saddened to receive news of Arlo Olson’s passing and further disheartened to learn that he took his own life while in custody.

Arlo was the victim of a terribly dysfunctional justice system that did not take his humanity into account when arranging for a wrongful conviction, just as it did not consider ours. Today, it is his humanity alone that matters.

Arlo Olson struggled for nearly a lifetime with mental illness as well the addiction and behavioral issues that often follow in its wake. To the degree that his choices were his own in regards to our case, he was given forgiveness long ago. His last act toward the Fairbanks Four was one of bravery and honesty and it is that act we will choose to remember.

Arlo Olson had a family who loved him dearly. He was a son, a father, a brother, and there always was and always will be much more to his story than its interconnection to this case.

As survivors of systemized injustice we will continue to advocate for true justice, which includes the humane treatment of inmates and access to dignified and quality mental health services within our prison systems.

Our hearts are with the Olson family today, and we hope they receive an outpouring of love and support in this time of grief. Arlo is with his Creator now who knows the contents of his soul and will no doubt receive him with love beyond our understanding.

Rest in peace, Arlo.

 

 

Below is a memorial written byAdrienne B. who graciously shared it here. This friend of Arlo’s reveals a star-gazer and cook, and her words are stronger than ours:

 

My grandma Alma couldn’t say Arlo. Every time he’d cook her a meal, she’d say “Orville, you’re a real good cook. You should open a cafe and call it Orville’s.” He was very particular about his clothes, down to matching his hat to his shoelaces. I went to visit him in Valdez one summer when he was a supervisor for Peter Pan. When I showed up, he was wearing a large pink Alaska tourist themed sweatshirt and some highwater green pants with that really big eye smiling, childish grin. He had done his laundry the previous night and didn’t want to smell eau de fishy so he added a small bottle of bleach to his whites and his jeans. At least he separated them. He finished his shift and we ran into town to only be able to find Lee jeans and Hanes white tshirts with a wool flannel shirt. He went from being dressed like an old lady to an old man with suspenders the week I was there. Those little Phillipino ladies took him under their wing and helped him with his laundry and made sure he ate for the rest of the season. He liked cream in his tea and couldn’t wait go the fall time so he could watch the stars. Godspeed my friend. Those of you reading this that are feeling sad, I pray you too find your place of love and gratitude for being blessed with such a kind soul. He wouldn’t want you to be sad, that’s why he always made you feel important and loved. It’s and good day to celebrate that love. Rest assured from the Heavens above, his loved ones know his sissy Tass has her big brother to hold hands with and run in the tall grass by the river to visit grandpa Aggie and Grandma Marylene. The four of them I’m sure have stopped in to visit my grand alma and grandpa Roland. In good time, in good faith, God promises I too will join them. Until then, I’ll continue to look for them in the stars. Ill speak up about the stigma of mental illness, fight for fair treatment in the system for those suffering from their own minds and let the memory of his beautiful hands be a part it. He may no longer be here in flesh, but a part of him will continue to live through so many wonderful memories. Bless and be blessed my friends.

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Day 8 – These Are OUR Streets – Alibis Return

October 14, 2015

On the eighth day of proceedings in the Fairbanks Four case, alibis returned, or appeared in court for the first time.

bookertwashingtonConan Goebel came from his home in Washington to testify for the first time in this case. Despite having seen three of the four accused that night, and his very solid police interviews, Goebel was never called to a previous trial. Goebel reconfirmed the information in his police interviews – that Eugene and Kevin had been paging him from Kevin Bradley’s house party until they left Bradley’s near 1:30am. Goebel recounted having seen Frese, drunk but uninjured, late in the night, as well as Vent. Kevin Pease slept at Goebel’s house that night. Goebel discussed the police interviews at length, describing how he was threatened and bullied. “I realized that what I said really didn’t matter, that there was something he specifically wanted me to say, and if I didn’t I felt like he was threatening me,” Goebel said.

Goebel remains one of our favorite witnesses because he is a bit of an anomaly. The Reid Method of interrogation, by and large, works on almost everyone. Very occasionally it simply does not work, and creates this emperor’s new clothes situation. Conan Goebel’s police interviews demonstrate that the method is failing to work on him, and he remains very clear. His testimony was simple and clear as well – he knew that Eugene Vent and Kevin Pease were at the Bradley residence until between 1:30-2am. He saw George Frese after 3am and he was not injured. Kevin Pease slept at his house and likewise there was no indication he had been involved in a fight. When Detective Aaron Ring interviewed a teenage Goebel he threatened him, threatened his family, turned the tape recorder on and off, and said, “if you don’t tell me what I need to hear, I’ll see to it that you are arrested,” as well as insinuated that Goebel’s baby sister and mother could come to harm.

(Read portions of Goebel’s police interview HERE)

Kevin Bradley, now a civil engineer based in Montana, corroborated the other alibi testimony and confirmed that Pease and Vent had spent the critical hours of the night at his home. Bradley’s parent’s were away for the night, and the teen hosted a small party. He confirmed that Joey Shank, who testified the day before that he had driven Vent and Pease home from the party near 2:00am, was sober and driving Bradley’s mother’s vehicle. He also described being terrified at questioning and threatened by police officer Aaron Ring, and that the police were turning the recorder on and off.

Shawna Goebel, sister to Conan Goebel and attendee of the party, was fourteen in 1997 and testified to the details of the night as well and confirmed that Vent and Pease were at the Bradley party during the time the Hartman murder was committed. She described the threats and terror she encountered being questioned alone in her bedroom with no parent present.

Christy Moses testified to the same effect – the threats of investigators, the traumatic experience of being threatened and attacked by officers alone at the age of sixteen, without a parent, and confirmed the details of the night.

The witness testimony regarding police misconduct was corroborated by troopers McPherron and Gallen, who conducted the 2013-2015 investigation into the original case and convictions, who in earlier testimony confirmed that it appeared the confirmed that the officers turned tape recorders on and off, interrogated and threatened alibis instead of using standard questioning practices.

housepartyArlo Olson also testified in person at the state’s request, but maintained that his original testimony had been both entirely fabricated and the result of pressure and threats from Officers Aaron Ring, Jim Geier, and Prosecutor Jeff O’Bryant. Despite the prosecutor’s many attempts to get Olson to say he had been threatened by the Fairbanks Four or their supporters, he maintained that he had not.

Cross examination accomplished little except to reveal that the witnesses did not have precise times, but estimations – ie., “between 1:30 and 2:00 am” instead of “1:42am.” The witnesses maintained that their timeframes, given in 1997 and reiterated under oath in court, were honest and accurate.

All witnesses testified that they were with the men accused at the time of the murder and that the police threatened and bullied them when they came forward.

We hope that seeing these witnesses can underscore their humanity to the community of Fairbanks. These are not “Natives lying for other Natives” like Spartacus, as original prosecutor Jeff O’Bryant argued in the original trials. These are regular people – engineers, waitresses, counselors, homemakers, teachers. These are citizens of the United States of America who, as children in 1997, had their most basic rights denied and were threatened when they stood up against injustice by accident. Today they are adults who understand more about what this means, but they are no more believable. They should have been seen and heard in 1997, and they should have been protected from men who sought to use or harm them. Eighteen years of being dismissed, not seen individually but as a stereotype or group, and eighteen years of attack have left each of them somehow just as kind, calm, and willing to speak up as they were as children. Our community owes them an apology, and we owe the next generation of children better.

Day 8 News Coverage:

Testimony Focuses on Night of Killing

Listen to Testimony – NPR Coverage

Day 5 – A Star Witness Recants

October 9, 2015

The last day of the first week of proceedings in the Fairbanks Four case featured critical witness Arlo Olson recanting the testimony he gave at all three of the trails that led to the convictions now in question.

The importance of Arlo Olson’s testimony in the original convictions of the Fairbanks Four is best described by the prosecutor who relied so heavily upon it:

Simply put,” Jeff O’Bryant told jurors, “if Arlo didn’t see what he saw, and you throw out some of the state’s evidence, the state doesn’t have a case. No doubt about it.”

Olson himself confirmed that he did not see what jurors believed he saw, and that in fact he would not have been able to identify anyone.

“No, it was far. It was dark,” he said, “I was drunk.”

Marvin Roberts from 300 feet away, a photograph taken 10/12/13 at McKenzie Point Correc

Marvin Roberts from 300 feet. Olson identified him from 550 feet away, but now claims that testimony was fabricated.

Jurors from the original trials have described in press interviews how heavily they relied upon Olson’s testimony to reach a verdict. Yet, the testimony on which four men were convicted of a brutal murder has come under significant scrutiny for many years. In the original trials, Olson claimed to have seen all four men together that night, and witnessed them commit an assault against Franklin Dayton. Olson claimed to have seen this from 550 feet away, drunk, in the dark, even though the crowd of people he stood among saw nothing of the sort. The testimony itself was predicated on the idea that one lone person in a crowd had been able to see for a distance and in conditions that greatly surpass the known limitations of the human eye, and the details of the testimony were equally suspect. Olson testified from prison on a videotaped deposition that his original testimony had been fabricated, and coached by Officer Aaron Ring and prosecutor Jeff O’Bryant.

Olson described being interviewed by Officer Ring, and testified that the officer slowly shaped a story to fit the case, supplied him with details, took him to the police garage to see Marvin Robert’s car, and only recorded an interview once the story had “shaped up.” Investigative notes created by Officer Aaron Ring confirm some aspects of Olson’s account, including the trip to the garage and the only partially recorded contact. Olson claimed to have been both afraid and persuaded by the officer’s assurance that the men were guilty. Olson went on to describe how he would sit in the D.A.’s office to practice and memorize the testimony.

“I kept memorizing it and memorizing it and after a while, you start believing it,” he said.

Despite the State of Alaska’s original position that the Olson testimony was critical, there is no indication that it has impacted their strategy of rigorous defense of the original convictions. Under cross-examination Olson largely held his head down and answered “okay” or “I don’t know.” During the deposition he confirmed that he is on medications and struggles with mental illness.

We have long maintained that Olson’s testimony was false, inappropriately influenced, and came from a troubled young man. His testimony, unsurprisingly, confirms all of that.

Arlo Olson was followed by testimony of public defender investigator Thomas Bole and former public defender investigator Richard Norgard. Bole recounted how in 2004 Wallace’s public defender sent him to see Jason Wallace, incarcerated at FCC in connection with the beating death of a young woman, the brutal stabbing of another man, arson, and a conspiracy to take over a drug ring with partner William Holmes that culminated in the Christmas Eve murders of two other victims. When Bole interviewed Wallace, the inmate confessed to the killing of John Hartman. Bole described Wallace as extremely emotional and related how the inmate broke down in tears repeatedly.

Thomas Bole, 2015

Thomas Bole, 2015

The investigator heard and believed the claims, and according to his testimony was burdened by the information but also unable to come forward, constrained by rules of confidentiality. Bole ultimately discussed the Wallace confession with fellow investigator Richard Norgard, a public defender’s investigator who would eventually go on to found the Alaska Innocence Project. It was Norgard who passed the Bole account to the Alaska Innocence Project, sparking a series of sealed and secret filings, hearings, and a long legal debate over who broke the confidentiality owed to Wallace, whether it mattered, and most importantly, whether or not the information would ever be admitted to a court of law, or if it would remain forever sealed and secret. The statements of Wallace were ultimately revealed through an accidental leak by Jason Wallace’s attorney Jason Gazewood, published by the Fairbanks Daily Newsminer, and republished here. The publication of the statements, according to Judge Lyle, for all practical purposes broke the court seal, and allowed the testimony of Bole and Norgard to be open in light of the breach.

Attorneys for the State attempted to dispute the testimony of Bole based, in part, on the psychology theory of confirmation bias. The idea of confirmation bias is that human beings have a tendency to inadvertently seek confirmation of their preexisting notions and ignore contradictory information. Confirmation bias is likely to have impacted many involved in the original case, but did not make logical sense when applied to Bole. The theory is not applicable in Bole’s situation, as there is no indication that Bole had any preexisting notion to confirm when he walked blindly into an investigative interview with Wallace in 2004. The line of questioning baffled Bole, who reiterated that he hadn’t “known Jason Wallace from Adam” when he went in to interview him. “There is the possibility, sir, is there not, that when you spoke with Wallace you heard what you wanted to hear?”

Bole appeared momentarily speechless, shook his head and laughed in apparent disbelief, and said, “No.”

“Not possible?” Bachman repeated.

“No,” said a stunned Bole. “Not possible at all.”

“Jason Wallace told me what he told me, and I am never going to forget that,” Bole stated.

Under continued cross-examination Adrienne Bachman for he State of Alaska asked Bole whether he feared for his career in light of the fact that the now disclosed statements made by Wallace were subject to confidentiality. He immediately confirmed that he did fear for his career, but said that he was ultimately glad that the information had come out, as it weighed on him.

Amid many procedural losses and victories, depositions and examinations, there was the weight of a terrible secret lifting from many shoulders this week inside the Fairbanks Superior Court. we applaud all who have courageously told the truth in this case, especially those who did so in fear for their safety, their careers, of humiliation and more. Courage is not the absence of fear, but bravery in the face of that fear, and it took real courage to do the right thing in this instance.

Some News Links:

Arlo Olson Says His Account Was Fabricated

Fairbanks Four Trial week in Summary

Alaska Innocence Filing Exposes Flawed Eyewitness Testimony

Marvin Roberts from 300 feet away, a photograph taken 10/12/13 at McKenzie Point Correc

Marvin Roberts from 300 feet away, a photograph taken 10/12/13 at McKenzie Point Correc

The Fairbanks Four were convicted primarily on the eyewitness testimony of Arlo Olson, who testified that he was able to identify the four men, two of whom he had never seen before, from 550 feet away in the dark.

We recently posted the details of Olson’s testimony, audio recordings of his multiple recantations, discussed his motivations, inconsistencies, recantations of recantations, and his personal criminal history. (READ THAT HERE) We have also discussed how Olson’s testimony about the assault of Frank Dayton was not even consistent with Frank Dayton’s recollection. (HERE)

 

 

This is a photograph taken 16 years to the date eaglesand time of the night Frank Dayton was assaulted. Arlo testified that he identified the Fairbanks Four from this vantage point and in this lighting. According to his testimony he identified they would have been essentially next to the furthest visible building on the left, there is a parked car with headlights on at the exact location to mark the spot. We have discussed this multiple times. Those posts and conversations have their place. It is important to understand HOW and WHY a wrongful conviction occurs. But the reality is that discussions of how or why Arlo Olson lied in his testimony don’t really matter anymore. The filing by the Alaska Innocence Project filed for post conviction relief of the basis of innocence for the Fairbanks Four contains expert scientific review of the testimony that makes a very simple and indisputable claim: it is impossible for Olson, or any human being, to identify anyone from 550 feet away.

Well known celebrity as they would be seen from 550ft

Well known celebrity as they would be seen from 550ft

The evaluation of Olson’s testimony was completed by an extraordinarily well qualified  scientist who uses this photograph of a well-known celebrity to illustrate what the eye can see from 550 feet away in optimal conditions and daylight.  Can you recognize the face? Obviously, no, you can’t. No one can. Plainly stated, no human being can identify a face from that distance.

 

 

 

 

 

Julia RobertsHere is the photograph, with a representation below of the loss of perception and size at varying lengths. This issue is settled. The sky is blue, grass is green, and Arlo Olson lied in court, simple as that. There was a time when many believed to world was flat. Science sometimes answers these questions, and logic has once again prevailed.

The testimony was absurd to begin with. The idea that four men were sent to prison based on it is astounding and unforgivable. Yet, the state of Alaska considered this their most important evidence, the very prosecutor who convicted them said that without the testimony they had “no case,” and to this day imprisons the Fairbanks Four on the strength of that claim. The entire expert statement is contained in the filing we link to below for readers to review on their own.

The Fairbanks Four were not sent to jail on accident. They were not unlucky bystanders in an unfortunate misunderstanding. We believe they were the victims of irresponsible work at best, and more likely corruption. The lies of Arlo Olson were purchased by police and prosecutors with an offer of leniency in his own crimes, and if his account is to be believed, he was threatened with prosecution for perjury if he recanted. The bottom line is that there is abundant evidence that Olson’s testimony was flawed and untruthful, and now there is clear, concise, correct scientific proof.

The State of Alaska’s current response to this case is that they are sure they are right, but will now do an independent investigation of themselves, by themselves, and until that time will remain silent. We have said before, and will say again, that the enemy of the truth is not a lie, it is silence. In their silence they remain the enemy of the truth.

Application for Post Conviction Relief:

http://www.webcenter11.com/sites/default/files/application_for_postconviction_relief.pdf

Arlo Olson – “Star” in the Case Against the Fairbanks Four

ImageWe could tell you ourselves that we believe the Fairbanks Four could not have been convicted without the testimony of Arlo Olson. But that sentiment is more convincing coming straight out of the mouth of district attorney Jeff O’Bryant, who tried and convicted all four men.

“Simply put,” O’Bryant said to jurors during the last trial, “if Arlo didn’t see what he saw, and you throw out some of the state’s evidence, the state doesn’t have a case. No doubt about it.”

In this post we want to explain exactly what Arlo Olson claimed he saw, and what Arlo Olson actually saw.

On the night of October 10, 1997 Arlo Olson was an (uninvited) guest at the wedding reception at the Eagle’s Hall. That October he was also awaiting sentencing on multiple assault charges. He had severely beating his pregnant girlfriend a few months earlier, violating probation, and was looking at the possibility of a year or more of jail time.

Before arriving at the reception Arlo had spent nearly 24 hours drinking Wild Turkey and getting high. He attended the reception, commented to no one about witnessing any kind of crime, and went home without attracting any attention beyond being noted by a few other wedding attendees as extremely intoxicated. When news hit the papers that the Fairbanks Four had been arrested for the beating death of John Hartman and the assault of Frank Dayton, Arlo didn’t contact the police or comment to anyone that he knew anything about the case. Then, a few weeks later, Arlo emerged as the only witness who placed the Fairbanks Four together, and the only witness in the entire case.

Immediately following the arrest of the Fairbanks Four the police held a press conference to essentially brag about the fast and incredible speed of their investigation and arrests. The crime was solved so quickly that it was truly incredible – in the sense that it completely lacked credibility. In that moment we can only speculate that the officers involved may have actually believed that they had the right people, and that all the needed evidence would simply fall into place. Yet nearly immediately, their fragile case constructed out of speculation and the vague admissions of terrified drunk kids started to crack. First, a major alibi issue cropped up when the time of John Hartman’s assault was determined (READ ABOUT THAT HERE). Once the police knew the time that Hartman was assaulted a quick review of all of their original interrogations and interviews demonstrates that the accused, the people who were with them that night, and scores of other alibi witnesses provided ample evidence that the four were scattered across town, nowhere near the crime scene, and not together at the time of the crime.

Within a few short weeks the case the police had so boldly touted as an example of their expert investigative skills threatened to fall apart completely when the lab results came back. Despite testing hundreds of items – fingerprints from the car, DNA from the crime scene, scrapings from the victim’s fingernails, all of the clothes and footwear collected from the Fairbanks Four, fingerprints from the scene, and so on – there was absolutely NO indication in ANY of the lab results that linked the Fairbanks Four to the victim, the crime scene, the car, or to each other. The police had taken their victory lap in the press, claiming to have solved the brutal and bloody stomping death of a young boy in a matter of hours, and were now faced with a case that consisted of virtually nothing. Scores of alibis, no witnesses, and NO PHYSICAL EVIDENCE. Their only chance at convicting the Fairbanks Four was to produce an eye witness. And so, they did.

The police tracked down Arlo Olson. They brought him in for questioning, and suddenly two things happened at once: Arlo Olson claimed to have seen The Fairbanks Four assault Frank Dayton. And, just like that, the jail time he was facing for beating a pregnant woman multiple times disappeared.

Arlo claimed he saw them all together in Marvin’s car, jump out to assault Frank Dayton, and speed off. He testified in trial that he was “110% sure” that he had seen the four. This made Arlo the only witness to claim to have ever seen the four together, link them to Marvin’s car, and the only person in the world who has ever claimed he saw any of the four accused participate in a violent group assault.

Arlo Olson testified that he saw all of this while standing in a group of other people, none of whom saw or heard anything. He also claimed that he saw all of this from over 550 feet away, in the dark.

Again, we could go on and on about why we are sure that Arlo lied. BUT perhaps it is best to hear it from the horse’s mouth. Since the trials of the Fairbanks Four Arlo has recanted over and over. He says he was pressured to say what he did, that he was wasted, that he didn’t see any of them, that the “questioning’ by the police included them showing him Marvin’s car in the police garage and asking him to identify it, telling him exactly what to say, and plainly offering him a get out of jail free card if he complied. He claims that later, when he attempted to recant, Aaron Ring would visit him again and threaten him with jailtime based on perjury.

Arlo also recanted his recantations a few times. When he was convicted, over and over again, for beating women, he sometimes elected to once again ask for leniency since he had testified in the trials against the Fairbanks Four.

Listen to Arlo recant his testimony HERE.

Read about his many recantations and download transcripts HERE.

For a long time we wanted Arlo to speak for himself here, and he went back and forth. But the time has come to bring him up. Remember that in 1997 Arlo was young, deeply troubled, and probably subjected to the same pressure that so many caved under. We want to approach him with as much love and compassion as we cab. The 44-plus entries for Arlo Olson in the Alaska Court Database tell the troubling story of the life Arlo lead following 1997. He went to jail over and over, and most of his crimes involved violently victimizing women. The juries who heard Arlo’s testimony were not allowed to know about his criminal history, or have any details of the “deal” he was offered in exchange for it. Ultimately, he may have done it under pressure, but Arlo traded one year of his life for the lifetimes of four other men. And he also cost himself the opportunity for early intervention that he probably desperately needed. Who knows how many crimes of violence and addiction that Arlo has committed through the years could have been prevented if he had entered jail for his crimes and received help with his problems.

On that fateful October night in 1997, Arlo Olson saw exactly what the human eye is capable of seeing from 550 feet away in the dark – nothing. Arlo saw blackness. But a few weeks later the police reached out to Arlo in his darkness and showed him something else – an opportunity to escape accountability for his own crimes.

In our next post we will unveil the scientific study into Arlo’s eyewitness testimony and show that not only is there any indication that Arlo was telling the truth, but that it is scientifically impossible for him to have seen it.

There is no doubt that this case has brought tremendous pain to many. Arlo is just one more person who has suffered in this situation. We have forgiven him, and hope that someday he can take the weight of these lies off of his own shoulders and find peace, happiness, hope, and forgive himself.

Witnesses and Alibis IX – The Mugging of Frank Dayton

Frank Dayton’s mugging was only one of the similar attacks that occurred the night John Hartman was killed. However, the beating and mugging of Frank Dayton is of incredible importance because of the part it played in the police theory of the murder and the part it played in trials.

In addition to being charged and convicted of the murder of John Hartman, the Fairbanks Four were also convicted of mugging Frank Dayton, primarily off the eyewitness testimony one man provided in exchange for leniency in the serious criminal charges he was facing. It was the only testimony that put the four together that night, or indicated that they were engaged in violent behavior of any kind. That testimony was made by Arlo Olson, and has since been recanted. We hope to post Arlo’s story, and are hoping that he will be able to tell it himself for us and keep with our focus on letting people speak for themselves. Either way, we will discuss Arlo Olsen’s role in this case at length very soon. For now, we will focus on Frank Dayton’s version of events. It is impossible to overstate how important Frank Dayton’s mugging became in the murder trial. In this post we will describe the mugging that Frank Dayton reported to the police and testified to in trial.

Frank was at the the wedding reception at the Eagle’s Hall along with hundreds of other guests. Sometime around 1am, Frank decided to walk a few block over to meet a friend. Much like Hartman, he was walking alone in the cold late night. He was soon assaulted in a disturbingly similar way.

Frank was in the 300 block of 1st Avenue when he heard a car rolling up behind him. He assumed that the car was slowed to a crawl so that it could pull into the parking lot he had just passed. When he turned around he saw the car. He described it as a four door light colored car (white, or a very light tan or gray). The assailants ran up to him and he was immediately tripped and knocked to the ground. His elbow, knees, and face smashed into the cold pavement. He made a movement to stand, but one of the attackers slammed their foot down on his right hand. Another stood over him. They kicked him in the side and back. As he lay with his face pressed into the pavement he saw the show standing on his hand – a white high top.

The attackers assaulted him primarily by kicking him while he was on the ground. They reached into his pocket and took the $20 he had. They then ran to their car and sped off, disappearing as quickly as they had appeared.

Frank was not able to describe his attackers, it had all happened fast and in the dark, and he was held face-down to the ground during the beating. He was able to see and remember the car well, which he described as a “good-sized” light four-door sedan. Frank even drew a picture of the car for the police, which is pictured above.

In the police theory, they surmised that the Fairbanks Four – Kevin, Eugene, Marvin, and George – had gone on a violent beating spree that night attacking people at random. Indeed, there is a distressing theme in the violence that occurred that night. Three others reported nearly identical attacks which you can read about HERE. In those attacks the eyewitnesses or victims also described a light four-door sedan as the car, but the others were able to provide a better description of their attackers, and across the board they ALL described four young African American men in that light car, getting victims to the ground, kicking them, and speeding away.

Frank Dayton was wearing a leather jacket than night. One that likely had the palm and fingerprints of his attackers on it – Frank offered it up to be tested, and the investigators declined to take it. There are a lot of opportunities lost in this case – Frank Dayton’s jacket was one of them, but much like Conan’s pager (read about that HERE), yet another opportunity to collect that evidence was passed up. It is a theme in the case that is disturbing to say the least.

After the beating, Frank Dayton returned to the Eagle’s Hall, where his sister in law Susan Paskavan called 911. The call is logged at 1:34am, roughly the same time that the assault on John Hartman ended.

Prosecution and police relied on a theory that the Fairbanks Four beat and mugged Frank Dayton, then drove the several blocks to 9th and Barnette and fatally beat John Hartman in a similar way. There are many holes in that theory, but here are some of the most important ones:

* Frank Dayton’s attackers drove a light full-sized four-door sedan, Marvin drove a bright blue two-door tiny car.

* None of the four were there. Read their timelines for more details (MARVIN, GEORGE, EUGENE, KEVIN).

* Marvin was at the Eagle’s Hall when Frank Dayton returned and 911 was called. Gary Edwin testified that he KNOWS Marvin was there at the time because as Gary was leaning over the injured Frank Dayton, Marvin approached him and said, “What happened?” Gary responded that he didn’t know and was trying to figure it out himself.

* None of the four were wearing or owned white high-tops. The shoes that the police collected from the men were listed as brown boots, black boots, and black Nike Air tennis shoes. NO white high-tops. Remember that George, Kevin, and Eugene were all arrested in the shoes they had worn. Marvin’s house was searched and all of his shoes were taken.

* Frank Dayton was Eugene Vent’s cousin. It seems unlikely that Eugene, a person with no history of violence, would attack anyone, but especially his own family. It also seems unlikely that Frank Dayton would not recognize his young relative. It also seems unlikely that Frank Dayton would not be able to identify the suspects as Native given his level of familiarity with a Koyukon Athabascan accent.

* Frank Dayton himself believes the Fairbanks Four are innocent, and KNOWS that they are not his attackers. He said this on the stand, and has said it for the last 14 years.

Despite all of this, the Four would eventually be tried for the mugging of Frank Dayton and the murder of John Hartman in one trial. Juror’s would later say that Arlo Olson’s testimony, which convinced them that the Fairbanks Four were guilty of mugging Frank Dayton, was one of the biggest factors in them finding the men guilty.