Life Outside Prison – The Fairbanks Four on Life After Exoneration, Interview Part III

*The third installment of a three part interview with the Fairbanks Four. A fund exists for the men and can be donated to HERE

 

The last chapter of the Fairbanks Four story has only just now begun. This is the beginning of ever after, where George, Eugene, Marvin, and Kevin have the freedom to chose what comes next. Life without bars is new to the men, who discuss both the joys and challenges of life in a whole new world.

“You are waiting so long for freedom you are ready for it every day,” Eugene says. “But, you’re really never ready. You can imagine it but there’s no way to know what to expect.”

kevin drivers license

Newly licensed driver Kevin Pease

 

Kevin just got his driver’s license, and shows it to George as he speaks about some of the hardships of adjusting to life outside.

“One big thing, that’s  a hard thing, is the generation gap, ” Kevin says. “There is a whole new generation of people that have been born and grown up since we went away. Everyone I knew is older, they are the adults. I go to jail, and I was a teenager. It’s almost like arrested development. I used to think of aging as the passage of time, but it isn’t that. Aging is experiences. My peers have kids, families, jobs, car payments, relationships that happened and ended, careers, bills, life, and I feel like we weren’t allowed to have experiences. We didn’t learn from these experiences because we didn’t have them. So we are almost forty and part of me feels that and part of me is still nineteen years old. When I left we were the kids. Now we are the parents of the kids. We have moved up this like whole generation, and nothing prepared us for that.”

Marvin notices the adjustment most when interacting with people as well.

“The hardest part of freedom for me is interacting with people,” Marvin says, “I may make it look easy, I try to, but it’s really difficult. I have a lot of anxiety. I am so grateful for all people have done and for my path but there are times I wish I was just a regular person who this had not happened to.”

For Eugene, people have been a refuge. He has dedicated much of his time since release to babysitting, quiet visits, and time with his grandmother. It is the process of making daily decisions that overwhelms him,

Eugene and grandma annie

Eugene Vent reunited with his Grandmother Annie, who raised him

 

“Choices,” Eugene says. “The hardest has been making decisions about things I am not really, I feel like I am not prepared to make or qualified to make. And it is only day to day life. What to buy from the store, what do I want to do today, what kind of groceries, what kind of job would I want. These may seem small to most people but going to a restaurant and ordering food, just waking up in the morning and opening a door, right there it’s more decisions than I was able to make in all of these years. I didn’t have the liberty to make decisions when I was incarcerated, and there are so many now.”

“I was in the store last night,” Kevin adds, “And like stuck in this aisle for an hour. I was buying jelly, but there were dozens and dozens of choices, for just jelly. What kind of jelly should I get? What do I like? Careers, training, what to do with a day, it’s like constantly we have all these choices.”

George laughs, “Man, I was doing that too, but now I just look at the prices. Things got expensive!”

Kevin sees the myriad of sensory input and choices as a kind of speeding of time, and wishes that things would slow down.

“It goes too fast,” Kevin says, “One thing that is hard is how fast everything is moving. Everything is at a higher speed than I am used to. In prison things are slow. Every day the same thing happens, with a set number of people, the same people every day, wearing one color. Now it’s cars, sounds, every color out there, people behind you, in front of you, new faces all the time, endless possibilities. It’s the hardest thing to get used to and sometimes I just want everything to slow down so I can take it in.”

Eugene agrees. “Everything is such a rush, so fast. I wish I could slow it down too.”

“I love it,” George says of the frantic speed at which free life is moving.

“Sometimes I feel like I have too much time on my hands,” Kevin adds.

“Well I feel like I don’t have enough,” says George. “But i know what you mean, like there have been a few times I was alone for a minute and thinking you know, now what?”

Now what? That is the question that dominates the minds of the four and comes up most often from those who supported them. For now, adjusting to life outside is enough.

“It’s very hard to trust people,” Kevin says. “In prison it is unhealthy people employing unhealthy tactics. Criminal tendencies and ulterior motives are the norm.”

“That’s super rough,” George agrees. “Prison – I will put it this way – in there the average educational level is high school dropout, with the occasional A student gone corrupt. It is is not the easiest brightest group of people. In there you are usually not dealing with trustworthy or aware people. Everyone in prison refuses to be vulnerable. That is the primary motivation.”

“And now we are out here with people we love, and we have to relearn what that means in an everyday way. To have relationships built on trust with people you love,” Kevin says.

“Who can you trust?” Eugene agrees, “that is a real question. What a blessing to not know because the answer used to be ‘no one.”

George and his mom

George and his mother, Veronica

 

“Exactly,” says George, “that’s what I’m talking about, because now we are out here with people that we are supposed to love and care for and cherish. In there, it’s different. Inmates. Numbered people. To be out with people is good and overwhelming. I’m taking care of my mom, and we are both getting stronger.”

Kevin gazes out the third floor window that overlooks the neighborhood he grew up in. Between the trees he can just make out his childhood home. “I have these moments when I realize I am free. When it just hits me. You can’t absorb it all at once, it is just too much, so it comes in these little pieces. But it will hit you, like it’s hitting me now.”  He shakes his head in disbelief. “I am standing right here, looking out this window. I. Am. Free.”

George cannot get over how freedom announces itself in every moment of the day. “The sensation of freedom is constant,” he says. “Sitting in this chair right here right now, it’s so comfortable. Something as simple as that. Not sitting on steel. Freedom is everything.”

They reflect on all that has changed in their home town, and the people who live there. George sees the changes most in his daughter. She was three years old when he was arrested, and on his homecoming she is a twenty-one year old mother of two. George is matter of fact about how hard it was to lose those years, but seems genuine in expressing his peace with it.

george and grandchildren

George holding his grandchildren on his birthday as his daughter Tiliisia looks on.

 

“I don’t think about what is lost through change or time I think about what is gained,” he says. “How I relate to that is I see the grandchildren as the second chance. The bright side is I left this little baby girl, but came home to two grandbabies. One for two – that is a prison term, – one for two.  In prison when someone wants say a candy bar the exchange is one for two. Commissary takes weeks, everything in prison is about waiting. So you give a guy one candy bar today, and in a few weeks, he repays you two. One for two. I feel like I gave one by losing those years with my daughter and came out to two grandchildren. I got two. God finds a way to set is straight. I  lost more than you ever thought I could bear, and then gained more than I could have ever imagined. And that is how I see the whole experience. One for two.”

In the end, the men agree that their story is a happy one, where love conquers.

Kevin has long found a particular quote from another wrongfully imprisoned man the best encapsulation of their experience. From prison he quoted Rubin “The Hurricane” Carter, saying “hate put me in prison, but love is gonna bust me out.”

“Love,” Kevin says – his one-word answer to the question of what freed them.

Marvin agrees.

marvinandhazelatrelease

Marvin embraces his mother Hazel moments after his exoneration. Newsminer photo.

 

“Love, first and foremost love. Love is always what motivates us to do something for someone else,” Marvin says. “I believe that the information, the story, of our case and how we came to be in prison interested people. Brian O’Donoghue wrote about it, Innocence Project took us on, and then this huge shift from the blog. Once they heard the story the truth became obvious, and people saw themselves I think in us. Their sons. I was not surprised that people were drawn to our story.  I was surprised at how fast everything transpired after the blog.”

Eugene believes it all comes down to love as well.

“People root for the underdog, for one,” Eugene adds. “But really, love. The movement to free us was based on love and truth simple as that, and the efforts to lock us up was hate and lies, and love and truth are stronger. Of course that won out, you know? It always does. Man, it’s awesome. And we are just, totally grateful.”

The issue of of gratitude looms large in the minds of all four men and in their thoughts of the future.  The only time in the interview that the men are overcome with emotion is when the topic of gratitude comes up. Marvin says he thinks of it often.

“I just, I am overwhelmed with gratitude. I always feel that,” Marvin

“Something I do wonder,” George says, “is why us? For us to be deserving of this love we have received, it overwhelms me. I feel so obligated to everyone.”

George stops his sentence short as he is overcome, and Kevin is quick to offer some comfort.

Fairbanks Four attorneys

Marvin and Fairbanks Four Pro Bono Legal Team

“Well don’t feel obligated to everyone, George,” Kevin says, “that’s not possible, you will be raking leaves and babysitting and trying to do every little thing for thousands of people for the rest of your life. Feel that hardcore obligated to what all those people added up together are. And we need to put our lives there, just into the good. Being good people. So be obligated to yourself first and learn to be okay because that’s what people want from you anyways. They want a redemption story, they want a happy ending. They want you to be okay. They want someone to survive because it gives them hope. So that’s what I am doing, I am starting with taking care of myself so I can be okay, so I can just have the strength to be a person who can do more eventually.”

Eugene says he, too, is often overwhelmed when he thinks over what he considers an obligation to those who helped to free him.

“I think a lot about,” he says,  “how do we ever repay them? Every single person that did right by us, the attorneys, just regular people, they are all such a huge blessing. And it makes the people that did bad by us so small. Like nothing compared to the good. I don’t know how we will ever repay the kindness we were shown.”

George shakes his head at the magnitude. “Eighteen years,” he says, “it’s almost incomprehensible. People, most of them strangers, who fought eighteen long years for us. It’s amazing.”

hazel with sign.jpg

Hazel Roberts at 2007 protest. She actively protested her son’s imprisonment for 18 consecutive years.

 

The sheer amount of time that elapsed while the men waited behind bars for justice is hard for them and their friends and families to grasp. Marvin says that simply wrapping his mind around eighteen years remains an elusive task.

“Time is a hard one,” he says, “because yes sometimes it feels like more than eighteen years, and sometimes just yesterday.”

“No,” George interjects, “it feels like exactly eighteen years. Because that’s how long it was, and this is what that feels like.”

Kevin says that there are times that he feels the weight of lost time.

“Seeing people that I used to know, looking at the life that has happened. That’s when you realize how much time has gone by,” he says, “when you see how it changed people. And when you actually have to face, man, I was in prison for something I didn’t do long enough to age people this way, change things, when you really wrap your head around eighteen years, it’s rough.”

George agrees. “It’s crazy when the moments hit and you can absorb how much time was lost, he says. “Looking at your family. Nieces and nephews, I have so many, and I didn’t even know them. How people have aged. Yes. it’s the people. When you think about what you lost, it’s people. What does time mean? Relationships. ”

“Time,” Marvin adds, “just time. It’s simple in one way, and complicated in another, because time is everything. People, experiences, relationships. Time. And it’s the only thing you can’t get back. I know what we lost.”

George believes it is as impossible to number their losses as it would be to enumerate their possibilities. He speaks with an unchained excitement about the future.

“I want to experience everything I can,” George says. “Business. Travel. Everything. Just talking, reaching out to the next generation of kids, that is how I think we all see ourselves paying this forward. Teaching them the power of their words, the power of their own creativity, advocating for basic education and life skills, a higher self-worth. It’s very important. It’s everything.  When I was growing up there was a strong sense of community, the it takes a village, and I felt like that. How can we get kids to maintain that into adolescence, into adulthood, to develop a sense of self worth despite the obstacles and take it into a healthy lifestyle?”

The conversation returns often to what the men describe as a mind-boggling number of choices available to them on all levels – from groceries to life dreams. Their personality differences shine through sincerely on the topic of choices. George is ready to choose everything, all at once, regardless of practicality. Marvin is diligently pursuing the choices he has made. Kevin and Eugene are cautiously evaluating the seemingly endless possibilities.

“For now,” Kevin says of the future, “I am busy just realizing I am here, looking out the window. Waking up to an unlocked door. Adjusting to freedom.  We haven’t even been out a month yet, so the reality is I don’t know yet what the future holds. But I know I will know eventually, and I am so happy to be free and get to decide.”

Eugene is taking his new found freedom as well. “I don’t know what we will do yet,” Eugene says, smiling, “But I am so grateful that I can be here, free, to experience whatever comes next.”

Marvin, ever the engineer, has a future more carefully mapped out. But in general, he says, he wants to “make a career, have a family, just do what I can to rebuild. To build. Have a happy life.”

George continues with enthusiasm, “People, all kinds of people, are stuck in cycles of hopelessness, focused on bleak outlooks, totally unaware of the prospects out there. We have been there to the places of hopelessness. I have. And now we are just blown away by the opportunities within reach. If we can come back and even a small amount show this next generation that this world is not bleak, it is full of hope and opportunity, then this whole experience made sense. I have been living a fantasy for 18 years. For me this world is the dream. What I learned and what I want to share, is this simple life we all have – it’s everything. This is the dream.”

For the time being, Eugene is content to simply enjoy the freedom he dreamed of for eighteen years.

“I wake up happy that I am free,” he says, “That’s what I do.”

 

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Day Four – Scott Davison vs. Adrienne Bachman

October 8, 2015

Scott Davison, Newsminer Photo

Scott Davison, Newsminer Photo

The fourth day of proceedings in the Fairbanks Four case focused largely on the testimony of Scott Davison, who testified that Jason Wallace confessed his role in the Hartman killing just days after the murder to Davison and another student.

According to Davison’s testimony, he and a friend were sitting in a car in the Lathrop High School Parking lot just days after Hartman was murdered when Wallace jumped in and the three ditched school to smoke weed. When they were parked near the bowling alley a few blocks away, Wallace produced the local newspaper and told Davison and driver Matt Ellsworth that he and his friends were the ones truly responsible for killing Hartman.

Davison talked about his struggle to come forward, and that he believed Wallace’s threat to kill him if he did, then and now. In previous videotaped deposition, Mr. Davison said he felt blessed that the Innocence Project had tracked him down and allowed him to unburden himself of a secret that had tormented him for years. Davison  also outlined other attempts to come forward, most notably when he disclosed the Wallace confession to Officer Avery Thompson, who failed to record only that portion of the interview and did not pursue the information. Thompson blowing the information off, Davison said, was discouraging.

Officer Thompson took the stand briefly and denied much memory of the Davison statements, but came up stammering when the Fairbanks Four counsel produced a string of emails between he and his supervisor (as well as original investigator) Jim Geier to counter his claim that the one-time conversation was never expanded upon. He defended the failure to record the interview its entirety.

Davison’s former girlfriend and mother of his children took the stand as well to confirm that Davison had told her about the Wallace confession during their relationship, which spanned the late 1990’s and early 2000’s.

During cross-examination, State prosecutor belabored Davison’s inability to remember small details of his day or life in 1997 – how many credits he was taking that semester, for example, or small inconsistencies in his story – in one interview he described a man he confided the confession to as a friend, in another he described the man as an acquaintance. Davison defended his inability to remember such distant minutia, stating simply that perception is like that – that he had forgotten small details of the day but that Wallace’s confession was “tattooed into my mind.”

Bachman has previously attacked Davison from all angles, including rather dishonestly in the initial state response to the post conviction filing, and during questioning Davison was frank at his distaste for her tactics. “How is that relevant?” he asked when questioned about his children. He was consistently vocal about her questioning, and at one point when referring to a previous meeting with Bachman he stated that he hadn’t recognized her because she “had her nice face on” then. Judge Paul Lyle had to quell laughter from the public at the remark. In the end, Davison acknowledged his inability to remember some details, but was adamant about his testimony regarding the Wallace confession.

“I am not lying. He confessed to me.” Davison reiterated.

Judge Paul Lyle is taking the approach of hearing everything and considering admissibility when proceedings finish. This leaves his decision solidly unpredictable, as it is possible that any of the witnesses will have testimony excluded from the decision. However, for the time being it allows for the testimony to be heard and as such become public, and Davison proved a powerful addition to the discourse.

A few links for news coverage:

Newsminer

Dear Silent Holders of the Truth – A letter from Eugene

One incredibly frustrating, heartbreaking, difficult reality about the murder of 1997 is that THERE ARE PEOPLE OUT THERE WHO KNOW WHO DID IT. One investigator after another has identified a small handful of people that have information about this case, and knows that there are others. There is a $35,000 reward for information. ANYONE with information can call Bill Oberly with the Innocence Project at 907-279-0454 and come forward anonymously or on the record, and PLEASE, PLEASE, if you or someone you know has information about the killing of John Hartman, DO come forward.

What the investigators continually hear from people with information is that they are afraid of retaliation or being labeled as snitches, most especially afraid of retaliation or hardship if they themselves end up in prison. Although their choice to remain silent is their choice to make, it is heartbreaking. In order for the Fairbanks Four to get a new trial, these people would HAVE to come forward.

Below, Eugene speaks to THEM. To people that have information in this case but choose to stay silent.  Spread this letter everywhere you can, most especially to anyone you think it might apply to. Hopefully their heart is softened by Eugene’s plea and they are encouraged by his words of support.

“When Are You Coming Home?” – A Letter from George

A person always tells their own story best. We could write a thousand pages without expressing the simple truth as well as one short letter.  George is not a particularly sentimental person, so I know it took a lot to write this.It never fails to humble and amaze me that all four of these men have faith that this experience was meant to be and will serve a larger purpose. I think it is hard for many of us to keep faith in a life with all our freedom and every advantage - that they have found strong faith in a relatively hopeless place is.....beautiful.

If this letter moves you, get out there, and spread the word!! There is a lot of power in the truth, it has a way of spreading far and wide when it is repeated!

Also (since George begins this letter teasing Kevin) it is probably a good time to clarify that Kevin is Outside Indian and White, not Alaska Native. We have been asked about that a few times, and although it is not terribly important, thought this would be a good time to clarify for readers that Eugene, Marvin, and George are all Alaska Native, that Kevin is Native American and white.

Want to help bring George home? Sign our petition – click HERE!

I Shall Be Released – Video Post

This short video covers the most basic information about this case. This is a great thing to pass along, link to, post on Facebook, tweet, text, and spread far and wide. Many people who do not have the time to read the case files have three minutes to watch a video.

The soundtrack is I Shall Be Released as sung by Walter Trout and the Free Radicals

They say everything can be replaced

But every distance is not near

So I remember every face

Of every man who put me here

They say ev’ry man needs protection
They say ev’ry man must fall
Yet I swear I see my reflection
Some place so high above this wall
I see my light come shining
From the west unto the east
Any day now, any day now
I shall be released

Standing next to me in this lonely crowd
Is a man who swears he’s not to blame
All day long I hear him shout so loud
Crying out that he was framed
I see my light come shining
From the west unto the east
Any day now, any day now
I shall be released

 

Alibis and Witnesses V – Paging Conan

As near as anyone can tell the whole town of Fairbanks spent part of this night paging Conan Goebel. We do not know how to reach him (maybe someone still has his pager number?) to see if he wanted to make a statement today, but he figures enough into all of the timelines that he is well worth a mention. Beyond that, Conan has two other important roles in this case.
Conan’s pager had the potential to be a really solid alibi, and potentially an alibi for all four. It could have been the only common alibi, since although they spent the critical hours of this night apart, someone was always paging Conan. As far as we have seen, there was never any attempt to track down this data. But his pager would have been an ideal time-stamp on many people’s whereabouts. We have no idea why this information is not available, could be that it was not possible, could be that, like many other pieces of information that contradicted the investigators’ theory, it is either “missing” or was never pursued. Conan did offer the pager information to detectives, and surely the records if they existed could have easily been obtained. His pager is such an important witness an entire future post will be the pager’s timeline.
Aside from his pager Conan, like many others, was interrogated with high-pressure techniques when he was interviewed. As with other interrogations, which you can and should read HERE, Conan was given the good cop/bad cop treatment, and they tried to pressure him into admitting he was an eye-witness to the crime. Again, they gave him two choices:  Admit to being an eye witness; or, risk becoming a suspect. They cited false information, telling him that multiple people had implicated him, that his friends said he was there, that he had details of the crime not yet known (of course, none of this was true) and suggested to him that he had been blacked out (if you can undermine a person’s own memory of their movements it is much easier to persuade them that they were involved).
This technique failed quite terribly on Conan. And it is refreshing, because it worked painfully well on too many people.
Conan’s interview is one of our favorites, because when the investigator said things like, “Your friends think you were there.” He said things like, “I don’t think so.” He was just the rare example of a person who saw right through the manipulation. He asks them repeatedly about the obvious holes in their theory:
  •   How could a person across town have done this?
  •   Why would they ever think people like Marvin or Eugene had done this?
  •   George or Kevin?
  •  Why wasn’t George’s foot hurt when Conan saw him at around 3 am?
  •  Why were all of them behaving normally, in a good mood?
  •  Why weren’t they covered in blood? Why hadn’t they told him or anyone else about a fight?
Conan was a common link between the four because he was friends with each. People always ask why everyone was paging Conan. It seems he was a popular guy, and on a hopping night, everyone just wanted him to come out. Another distinct possibility –  maybe everyone was paging Conan just because he’s kind of a badass.
We will post his interview in its entirety at the bottom, but have to share a few stand-out  quotes here:
Conan:  Well, I can’t say it’s them.
Officer:  His pants pulled down.  Raped, and left in the gutter, okay.  Now, if that was your friend, okay –
Conan:  I still wouldn’t blame these kids for something that I don’t know.  See, there’s – I can’t tell…
Officer:  That’s why you’re not the police and you’re not investigating this –
Conan:  Thank God, ’cause I wouldn’t want to be working your job.  
    
We are glad that the officer explained to Conan that his unwillingness to finger someone for murder without evidence or motivation is why he would not make a good investigator.
After Conan admonishes them for making such a serious accusation with such little evidence, he gives Detective Ring and the other officer the boot. He tells them that they should not be showing up at his house, being disrespectful, and harassing him. It clearly makes them mad, and the officer gives Conan a little speech about owning the streets:
Officer:  Well, let me tell you something here.  These are our streets, okay.
Conan:  Right, man.  They’re my streets too.
Touché. And you know what? They ARE our streets! Where can we get a Team Conan t-shirt?!
Well, beyond his encouraging attitude and very early “Free the Fairbanks Four” work, Conan was an important witness. Conan saw all of the accused this night. His girlfriend was at the house party with Eugene and Kevin, which is why he was being paged from their location. His sister was there as well.  Kevin was dropped off at Conan’s house after the house party, and walked to his mom’s from there. After he got in a fight with his mom, Kevin rode back to Conan’s by a three wheeler and spent the night there.

For the purposes of this transcription “G” will be Conan Goebel, and “O” will be officer. (transcript does not confirm that one of the officers is Aaron Ring. We are operating on a hunch when we assume that it was him)

Goebel:  All right.  So, I gotta go over this all over with you?

Officer:  Yes, just where you were Friday.
G:  11:30, around 11:30, I got dropped off at, um – Over by the 21st Avenue at my cousin’s house (inaudible).  And, uh…

O:  Well, who dropped YOU off?  I think that’s one of the questions.
G:  Chrsty Moses and – I answered this.

O:  I understand.  That’s why I’m taking notes this time.
G:  And Kevin Pease and um…

O:  Okay.

G:  Dropped me off
O:  Was Eugene I the car at that time?

G:  No.

O:  Okay, 11:30?
G:  Yeah, it was probably around 11 – 11:30.

O:  11 – 11:30, okay.  What’s your cousin’s name again?
G:  Samantha.

O:  Samantha, okay.  And how long did you stay there?

G:  Till about 2:30, 2, I think.

O:  Two?  2:30, okay.
G:  Could have been (inaudible).  ‘Cause I know I went to town for a while.  It might have been earlier when they dropped me off the first time, or when they dropped me off the second time (inaudible).
O:  What do you mean, first and second time?
G:  Well, they dropped me off the first time and I stayed there for a while, and then they took off.  Then it’s just those people right there, and then they came back, and, uh, I got – I went – I come to the van with them and we went and picked up Eugene and Nathan.  They were at Eugene’s house.  And then we drove back over there and then they dropped me off right there, but I told them when they were looking for a place to go I (inaudible) take the car back.  So, I was like, well, you can drop me off at Sam’s house.
O:  Well, see, okay.  That’s – That is why he’s confused and why I’m a little confused.  you got dropped off there the first time by who?

G:  By just them people I said.

O:  Okay, what time was that?
G:  About 10:30.

O:  It was those people that dropped you off
G:  It was those – what time was that?  The van (inaudible)

O:  Tanya’s van?  Okay.
Another Officer:  And who was in this van with you?

G:  Tanya, Christy Moses, Allen Sisto.
O:  Okay, and they dropped you off at Sam’s and they went – you don’t – do you know where they went?

G:  They went up to Kevin’s – Kevin Bradley’s.

O:  Kevin Bradley.
G:  There, yes.  And then, they paged me, probably between 12:00 and 2:00 (inaudible) and they were (inaudible) it up there for a while, and I talked to them on the phone a few times and told them (inaudible) but I never (inaudible) so I called the next time around – I don’t know – 2, around 2:30
O:  Well, what’s this 11:30 time that you gave me when you were dropped off there?
G:  That’s when I got dropped off the second time.
O:  Okay, tell me about that – when you got dropped off the second time at 11:30.
G:  Well, after we picked up Nathan and Eugene, we went over – back over there, and I was like, they were going to find a place. Get me on the pager, and I’ll call (inaudible).
O:  YOU didn’t go up to Kevin’s?

G:  huh-uh

O:  Okay.
G:  And I, um, (inaudible) down there and they paged me and I talked to them on the phone.  (inaudible) I think it was like probably around, uh, 2:30 is when I called again.  I called at, um, it was probably like, (inaudible) left.  And I was like, all right.  And I asked, where did they go.  and they went down to Eagles Hall to meet you.  And I was (inaudible) so I hung up the…
O:  You didn’t know they were going to go down to Eagles to meet you?

G:  Nah-huh.

O:  Okay.
G:  Um, I think Eugene paged me before they leave.  I don’t know who – he told Dana – he said we’re going to go meet Conan down at Eagles Hall, but I don’t – I didn’t call him back.  (Inaudible)
O:  Oh, I see

G:  And, uh, he paged me 479-____.

O:  (Inaudible)
G:  And then, uh, walked down to Eagles Hall and, uh, it was about 3:00.  (Inaudible) and um,
O:  Who was there?
G:  I ran into, uh, Eugene, Dana, um, George, Marvin, Harley, uh, all those – all those guys.  And I was talking to them.  And nothing seemed – uh, I mean I was talking to him right there and, uh, he even talked to me and George (inaudible) hadn’t seen him in a while, and there was NOTHING WRONG WITH HIM AT THE TIME (inaudible) and he was in a pretty good mood.  And then, uh, so we was talking for a while, and um, and then, um, then everybody’s taking off – we were pretty faded at that time (inaudible).  And I was like, well, um, (inaudible) I called for a taxi for Dana.  And I, (inaudible) the taxi, (inaudible), Eagles, but they took too long because it was 3:30 when we finally got out of there, and, uh, Eagles – a red taxi rolled up and I went out there and I put here in that one and I sent her
home.  And after that, me, Eugene and Edgar, we proceeded on foot downtown.  And we walked downtown.  And (inaudible) across the street from – over at Elbow Room, and kind of walked in there, and then we turned around and…

O:  Who was in that bar?

G:  Um…
O:  Nobody YOU knew?  Okay.
G:  And, um, I walked (inaudible), and, then, uh, (inaudible) he didn’t last too long.  He was pretty (inaudible).  So then I – we walked over to Alaska Motor Inn.  And chilled there for a while.  And, uh, then, somebody said, (inaudible)

O:  Did YOU see that?
G:  I didn’t see (inaudible).  Eugene (inaudible).  But then I found out Eugene (inaudible) I talked to Harley
O:  When did you hear about that?  Because I don’t think you told me about that before.
G:  Well, see, I walked back over to – walked back over to Shannon’s – Shannon Charlie’s – (Inaudible) and, uh, I just took off over there after (inaudible) and I walked – walked over – back over to 21st.  That was at my cousin’s for a while.

O:  What time did YOU get back over to 21st?
G:  Probably around, uh, (inaudible).  Then, uh, I was – I don’t know – it could have been the next morning or that night that I talked to Harley about mace down there and it was like Eugene – Eugene and George got in a fight at Alaska Motor Inn.  That’s what I thought happened.  George got in a fight at Alaska Motor Inn.  And I was like, where’s he at?  And they’re like, he got arrested.  And then, after that, the next morning I heard about some kid getting beat up pretty bad and in a coma.
O:  Where’d you hear about that, Conan?
G:  Um, I think that was Louis.  ‘Cause the cops (inaudible).  And I was like – I was like, really.  and they’re like (inaudible).  We got in a fight with some other guy.  And that’s what I thought happened.
O:  That’s pretty weird because…
G:  I don’t know how – I mean Eugene took off and he didn’t say nothing – there was nothing wrong with him – no blood.
O:  Well, let me ask you about this.  You know the Tritts – Cordell and Courtney and their sister – what’s their sister’s name?  I’ve got their names written down.  Any way, Cordell and Courtney and their sister.  And you know…     ?:  (Inaudible)
O:  Antonio Sisto.  And you remember riding in the car with these guys?

G:  On Friday?
O:  Um, Saturday.

G:  Mm

O:  YOU remember talking to Antonio and Courtney?

G:  (Inaudible)
O:  And telling them about this guy that these guys beat down?
G:  No, I didn’t tell them about (inaudible) I asked and they said (inaudible) fight or some…
O:  Well, let me tell you.  I talked to all these people and they had information about you talking about this guy that got beat down.  And you know what they thought, by the way you were talking about it and all the details you had and everything – and this is Saturday where all the details came out. They thought you were there.

G:  That I was there?

O:  When this happened.
G:  I read it in the paper.  It was all in the paper.  I told them – I told that Eugene, Marvin, Kevin, and George are accused of murder.

O:  That wasn’t in the paper Saturday.
G:  Well, it was in the paper or on the new then, because even, uh, Sammie Smith told me heard about it on the news – somebody got coma – in a coma.

O:  What time was that you were (inaudible)?
G:  Then it was probably close to – it was like 12:00 at night.  And, I says to them (inaudible) ’cause I was calling and talking to (inaudible) and telling me they had all those guys in jail, and I was like – I don’t know – I don’t know (inaudible) he died or heard – at first I heard he was in a coma and then I heard he died.  And I was telling (inaudible) that.  And after that I got a ride with Courtney.  And I was – I got in there and I was talking to Antonio, and he was asking me about (inaudible), and I was like, I don’t
know, man.  I heard that they’re being accused for murder or something like that.
O:  Well, I think Antonio knew all about it because I think we’d talked to him by then.  And, uh, and – me and the Tritts are under the impression that you were there and saw this.
G:  Well, I wasn’t even anywhere around them.
O:  Or, they were under the impression maybe even a little more so that you were there and participated in this.

G:  You say that’s what they say?
O:  That’s the impression they got from you.

G:  I don’t think so.  I didn’t tell them anything like that.
O:  But if you were there and saw what happened, that’s another thing.

G:  I didn’t…
O:  Now, you mentioned Jeremy.  And I’ll talk about Jeremy for a minute.  Because Jeremy asked youvabout it, okay?  And you told him, geeze, I don’t know what was up – I was in a blackout.
G:  I was in a blackout?  I wasn’t blacked out.
O:  I know, but that’s what you told Jeremy.  ‘Cause he asked you why were in the fight with these guys and this thing, and you told him you were in a blackout.  Well, you know I’m not lying to you ’cause you told Jeremy that.  You know I’m not lying to you.
G:  I don’t know nothing about that.

O:  And Jeremy told us.

G:  I seen – I recall…
O:  ‘Cause he’s concerned about you and wanting to know if maybe you were just a witness to this happening or you were a participant.
G:  I wasn’t a participant or a witness.  I didn’t – I didn’t even get down there until…
O:  Why’d YOU tell Jeremy you were in a blackout then?

G:  I never told him I was in a blackout.
O:  Well, I don’t think he made it up.  He doesn’t have anything against you.
G:  Well, I know he don’t have anything against me.  There’s no reason, ’cause I never told him I was in a blackout.
O:  You see how this all looks?  The Tritts thinking – or thinking you’re talking like you were there and you participated.  Jeremy’s asking you a couple of times about the fight you were in and you…
G:  I wasn’t even in a fight.  I didn’t tell him.  I said, I don’t know what happened.  They’re getting accused for beating somebody up.
O:  You told him you didn’t know because you were in a blackout, okay?
G:  I didn’t know because…

O:  See, Conan, you’re not – we’re not arresting you here.
G:  But I ain’t got nothing – I wasn’t even around then.  I didn’t even hear what happened until like the next day about this kid being comatose…
O:  We’re  – we’re kind of concerned as to whether you want to be a witness or not, or whether you want to…

G:  Hey, if I seen it, man, I would tell you guys what happened.
O:  Well, let’s talk about that for a minute.
G:  But the thing is, I wasn’t even in the neighborhood that it happened in.  And that’s what I…
O:  Were you in Marvin’s car at all?
G:  Naw-huh.  I never even noticed Marvin’s car that night.  I never even rode in the car at all from Eagles
Hall.

O:  Well, is there any reason why YOUR fingerprints would be in Marvin’s car?
G:  Marvin’s car?

O:  HIS blue car?
G:  There’s no reason my fingerprints would be in there.  (Inaudible) I mean, I’ve rode in there before, but I didn’t ride in there Friday night.  I don’t even think they could be in there ’cause I haven’t rode in there for a while.
O:  Okay, well, no reason – in the back seat area – you weren’t in the backseat area of that car?
G:  (Inaudible)

O:  Did YOU go to the Eagles Hall at all?

G:  Yes.

O:  How?

G:  Walked.
O:  What time did YOU leave?

G:  Around 3:30.

O:  3:30?  What time did you go to (inaudible)?
G:  Around 3:00.  I ran into Dana (inaudible).

O:  Where were you?  Dana had been looking for you.
G:  I was at my cousin’s house (inaudible).
O:  You were there that whole time?  You didn’t leave there then?

G:  No

O:  All right.
G:  (Inaudible) Went in.  I talked to him on the phone a bunch of times.
O:  Why didn’t you go to the Eagles Hall with (inaudible)
G:  Because I didn’t know there was nothing going on down there.

O:  (Inaudible)
G:  (Inaudible) because I talked to them on the phone, and it was like come on, it’s like, we’re going to Eagles Hall, and then I found out (inaudible)
O:  Were they – were they at Eagles Hall when you talked to Joey?
G:  No, Joey was up at Kevin’s and he said they just left.
O:  Oh, okay.  Well, let me – let me clue YOU in there.  Joey drove them to Eagles Hall.
G:  Oh, really?
O:  Oh really.  Oh really.  So, see, we’re having a problem here.  ‘Cause Joey drove them. He borrowed Kevin’s car.  Kevin didn’t want to go and Joey drove ’em.
G:  Well, (inaudible) ’cause he went to Eagles Hall (inaudible) that’s why he called.  ‘Cause I was like how long ago.  He was like, not too long ago.  They left when (inaudible)
O:  And what time was that?

G:  Uh, (inaudible) about (inaudible).
O:  Uh-huh, but you’re telling me Joey was telling you this.  And I’m telling you Joey drove.
G:  I don’t know who drove.  I just talked to Joey – I don’t remember what time it was.  It was around 2:00, 2:30, somewhere around…

O:  Well, maybe Joey had driven and come back?
G:  (Inaudible) that’s what I (inaudible)
O:  So maybe it was around 1:30 or earlier than that that HE drove them in, huh?

G:  Huh
O:  Maybe it was around 1:30 or earlier than that that he drove them in?
G:  Could be, I don’t know.  I didn’t talk to him ’till late.

O:  Well, you told me that…
G:  I don’t know.  I don’t recall.  I could check my pager was.

O:  You got it?

G:  No
O:  You haven’t?

G:  No, that was Friday.  All those pages are erased.  I don’t know (inaudible)
O:  Well, see what I’m saying?  I’m a little bit confused about what you’re telling me.  Either Joey had already come and come back, which means it was quite – quite a while ago that you’d taken to the Eagles, because they got – he was –

G:  I don’t remember the time, though, man, I mean…
O:  Well, you might be right – you might be right.  ‘Cause I think your sister saw him (inaudible) time, so you might be right. You might have talked to Joey and he’d already gone and come back.
G:  I don’t, I don’t, don’t know.  I talked to Joey Shank.  I don’t know what time it was.  It could a been around 2:30.  But, then I remember I walked down there and…
O:  Between 1:15 and 2:15, you were where?

G:  I was over at Sam’s (inaudible).
O:  And you were there from 11:30 until –
G:  Probably about 11:30, 12:00.  I remember Darrel Calling from the car and (inaudible).  But I was sitting there ’till like probably 2:30 or later.  I don’t know.

O:  (Inaudible) around
G:  Because I said I was at the Eagles Hall – I don’t even know what time I was there.  I said I was there when everybody was leaving.  I was like one of the last people at Eagles Hall.
O:  Well, there’s no one (inaudible).  When did YOU leave there?

G:  Probably like 2:30.
O:  What did you do there?

G:  I just sat there talking to my  cous (inaudible).
O:  Okay, well I’ll give them a call and we’ll figure it out.  In fact, I can give them a call here in just a minute.
G:  And then I sat there for a while, and then I talked to Joey on the phone.  I don’t remember what time it was.  He says, I (inaudible) – when I talked to him last time, I got to – I got to Eagles Hall and everybody was leaving.  But I don’t know what time it was.  (Inaudible) it was around 3:30 when everybody was taking off (inaudible).
O:  Well, that’s what your sister and them’s saying.  But I don’t know if their times are right.
Other O:  They locked the doors between 3:00 and 3:30.

O:  Yeah, THEY had the doors closed.
G:  Because we were the last people there.

O:  Because the thing was over at 3:00.
G:  Yeah, it was probably around then.

O:  You left, um…
G:  But it took a while for everybody to get out, because everybody’s drunk.
O:  Yeah, everybody was out by 3:20.

G:  There were a lot of people.
O:  So, you  went from 21st Avenue over to the Eagles Hall?

G:  Yeah.
O:  And you got there, people were leaving?

G:  Uh-huh.  People were leaving.
O:  You see, the problem I’m having here is it’s sounding to me like people are trying to back step and figure out things to match up with other people’s stories and it’s starting to sound like a big mess.
G:  I don’t – I don’t know.  I…
O:  And the way you talked to in front of the Tritts and Antonio, they were thinking you were there when this happened.

G:  I wasn’t even there.  How can they say that?  I told them that…
O:  Well, good point.  Because of the detail you had.  And I would like to know if one of these guys talked to you and told you what happened, or if you were there?
G:  No.  Somebody’s (inaudible)

O:  Which one of these guys talked to you?

G:  Harley told me…
O:  No.  Which one of these guys that were in the fight told you about it?

G:  Nobody told me anything.
O:  (Inaudible) You’re not in trouble here.  We’re  not here trying to hassle…
G:  Look!  I’m basing it all on the times you said.  Eagles Hall – we left – a lot of people left Eagles Hall.
O:  Look, here’s the problem.  You call and you talk to Joey.  Well, Joey thought you dropped these people off, right?  And did some things in town and come back up to the hill.  Right.  (Inaudible) Well, that doesn’t match up with your sister’s (inaudible), who’s called by Kevin and told to adjust her time a little bit.

O:  Well,
G:  I don’t think that (inaudible) happened was Eugene and George got in a fight.  It’s nothing that Eugene and George got in a fight was a whole different fight.
O:  NO!  He did!  Now, I can play a part of the tape for your sister with Eugene saying how many times he kicked the guy.  I just asked him how many times you kick him…
G:  (Inaudible).  How could Kevin do it, when it happened over there?  Kevin was at my house and he had to go to his house.

O:  No, he wasn’t at his house.
G:  He was at my house and then he went to his house and got in a fight with his mom.
O:  He got in a fight with his mom later.

G:  All right.
O:  Okay, and the way it happened, is ’cause all these guys have lied about (inaudible) and what time it was and all that, okay.
G:  I don’t even know where they were.  Because I didn’t see these people until 3:00 – when I first got down to Eagles Hall and I talked with them.  And if they would have got in a fight, they would have told me (inaudible) because –
O:  Right.  Because that’s what we figured.  We figured they told you about it –
G:  (Inaudible)

O:  And that’s why we knew so much information to talk with Antonio…
G:  No, somebody’s telling you…

O:  (Inaudible)
G:  Um, like, I think it’s Harley, or one of them, told me that he got (inaudible) so bad that they had to cut open (inaudible).  So, well…

O:  How would he know that?
G:  I don’t know, man.  Lewis or somebody told me – I don’t know.  But I was like, well, I was like, how could these guys – these guys wouldn’t (inaudible)…
O:  Well, they certainly did.  They certainly did.
G:  Well, I think Eugene got in a fight at Alaska Motor Inn.  That’s what happened.
O:  And what, a space man killed this boy?

G:  Huh?
O:  A guy from outer space killed this boy downtown?
G:  I don’t know, man, there’s a lot of people downtown that night.  You gotta’ understand there were other people downtown on Friday night.
O:  But you see, none of them are admitting to doing it.  And Eugene and George are, okay.  That’s the problem we have, okay.

G:  Well, how could – how could Kevin do it when he was sitting here and –
O:  He wasn’t here.

G:  He was here.  He got dropped off at my house.

O:  Well…
G:  He got dropped off at my house.
O:  And then he left.  He didn’t even come in inside.  Then he came back on his three-wheeler to your house.

G:  He left his house.  How could he –

O:  ‘Cause he actually went downtown.  He didn’t –
G:  His house is that way, unless he got beat up that way.  Then (inaudible) he would walk that way.
O:  Well, I’M not going to argue with you.  ‘Cause I know where Kevin was and I know what time he had a fight with his mom.
G:  Well, yeah, it’s like.  Not too (inaudible).  ‘Cause after he got in a fight with his mom he came back over here on the three-wheeler and then passed out on the floor.
O:  Except for (inaudible) – he stopped by the Alaska Motor Inn (inaudible).
G:  He wasn’t even over there.  I went over there.  I never seen him over there the whole time.  I stopped –
O:  So, you really don’t know what time he was doing anything, do you?

G:  I stopped –
O:  Except what time he got here last.

G:  I don’t know.  It was probably about – I don’t know
O:  Right.

G:  I just heard –
O:  Absolutely.  So, you don’t know where any of these guys were when this boy was killed.
G:  (Inaudible) I seen Eugene at 3:00 down at –
O:  That’s not when the boy was killed.  You don’t know when these guys were killed – or where they were when this boy was killed?

G:  Uh-huh.  Well, I don’t know where –
O:  So don’t try to figure it out, okay.  We just need to know –
G:  I – I don’t see how they could do this, man.

O:  WE just need to know what you know.
G:  ‘Cause if they did, they would have told me about it.  They would have told me they got into a fight. That’s the thing.  And, George – I seen George and his foot – was nothing wrong with his foot.There’s nothing wrong –
O:  If it was your brother or sister laying face down and had this done to ’em, you wouldn’t be talking like that, okay.

G:  Yeah, but it wasn’t.  That’s the thing.

O:  That’s right.  It wasn’t.
G:  But it ain’t.

O:  This was a 15 year old boy…

G:  I don’t pretend things that never happened –
O:  This was a 15 year old boy.  This is a 15 year old boy –

G:  I know it’s a 15 year old boy.
O:  That got his head beat in.

G:  Well, I can’t say it’s them.
O:  His pants pulled down.  Raped, and left in the gutter, okay.  Now, if that was your friend, okay –
G:  (Inaudible) problem, but it wouldn’t…

O:  It would be –
G:  I still wouldn’t blame these kids for something that I don’t know.  See, there’s – I can’t tell…
O:  That’s why you’re not the police and you’re not investigating this –
G:  Thank God, ’cause I wouldn’t want to be working your job.

O:  Okay, that’s why…
G:  (Inaudible) but I –

Other O:  I don’t understand your point.  That’s exactly why what?
G:  I don’t know.  You said that’s the law.  Whatever, man.  I don’t need this.  You all coming in here and harassing me in my own home.  I wasn’t even with them; I was –
O:  We’re not harassing you.  What we’re doing is we’re just (inaudible) this right here in your home.
G:  Well this is my home.

O:  So you can disrespect whoever you want?
G:  In my home, yes.  This is my home.  This is my house, man.  I don’t need peole coming up in my house giving me shit (inaudible) –

O:  Well, let me tell you something here.  These are our streets, okay.
G:  Right, man.  They’re my streets too.

O:  Just remember that, okay.
G:  I don’t remember nothing.  (Inaudible) on the streets.  I live on the streets more than you do.
O:  Remember that.
G:  And, the thing is that I think if they did it, they would have told me about it.  That’s all I’m saying
O:  Maybe they’re not good friends with you.  Maybe they –
G:  Nah, man, these are my best friends.  Ask the school – go to (Inaudible) Roberts.  Ask them how close they are to me.  Ask them how close these guys are.  I mean, these are all my boys.  Really close friends.  And that’s the thing –

O:  No, I have no idea.  I don’t think so.  I don’t think so.
(TAPE OFF)

Alibis and Witnesses III

Crystal Sisto is mom to six kids, and as if that isn’t enough she also fills many, many roles in her position at BLM where her job duties range from auditing and payroll to equipment and crew hire. Crystal works and lives in Venetie, Alaska. In 1997 she was living with George Frese and the young daughter the two had together. They were middle school and high school sweethearts and became parents together at a young age. Needless to say, the events of October 1997 changed the course of her life, and her young daughter’s life forever. Her story is a powerful reminder that the reach of injustice is far. Yet despite the hardship she encountered, Crystal has never lost faith that the justice system will eventually work, and that these men will be exonerated. It is still hard for Crystal to talk about that night and the events that followed, but she has courageously agreed to share her story.

CRYSTAL ON THE EVENTS OF THAT NIGHT

It has been so many years its hard to remember everything. But a few things I know, will never forget, is that George was home at 1:30 am that night. I am sure. Also I know that George would have never done this kind of thing.

Okay, on October 12th. There was a wedding going on and at first we went to check that out, and I went to Cabaret for a bit. George and those guys made a run to the liquor store Patrick Henry went for them and had purchased 2 cases of beer a bottle of Bacardi……there was Vernon, myself, Patrick Henry, Edgar Henry, and George.

Patrick and I went to Cabaret and those guys went to out apartment. Then after a short while Patrick and I went to the apartment. My brother and his now wife were upstairs watching the baby. Those guys were already really drunk when we got there. We sat around at the apartment playing drinking games till my show was over that was around 1:30.

I know it was 1:30 in the morning because my show just ended at 1:30am, so they decided to check out the wedding at the Eagles Hall. It was Patrick, Edgar, George, John, On the way down they were going to stop at a friends that lived in the apartments next to the AK motel on Cushman.

George snuck into cabaret (also known as Elbow Room) and it was about 2:45 or 3 in the morning. He was in there with my mom and dad…he made it home between 3:30 to 4 or so in the morning……he had got a ride to part way and then walked. We sat around and continued to drink and laugh and then Vernon and George went to the bathroom to smoke a cigarette and it was the last one and they started to wrestle and became a little serious and in the end he hurt his foot in the bathroom.

CRYSTAL ON THE EVENTS THE NEXT AFTERNOON

George tried to lay down after a while. When he got up he was in pain and so we decided to go to the ER and I even explained it the nurse when she came in. She said something about downtown, and I told her no, and told her how he hurt his foot and she was like huh….then they took a long time to see him and then we found out she called the cops and said he was involved in the crime……I still can not believe an assumption from an ER employee could nurse would change our lives forever…….

When the police got to the hospital they talked with us for about an hour, and then they turned on the cassette tape. It was crazy the things they were saying, it was just like he was in trouble no matter what he said. Everything that happened there and everything and the way they interrogated him was not right. He gave in because he was drunk and tired and in pain. He just wanted it all to end and go home.

Georges shoes were sooo old the soles had holes in them and the tracks on them were flat and gone. We could not afford shoes for him. He kept his so I could get new ones and he kept his old ones, you could see his sock under his shoes…..there were almost no tracks because we were waiting for dividends to get him new ones. They took those shoes at the hospital. They questioned him for a very long time and then eventually they dropped him back off at the apartment. He told us how scary it had been, that he had agreed to this story they told him, that they were saying Eugene and a whole bunch of others had. He just wanted to get home and felt like there was no choice. It was scary.

You all know what happens after that….well anyways I got a hold of Robert Downes, George’s first lawyer and he told me to write everything down,and this was before they printed the times in the paper and on the news, I had it all down on paper the times and everything the whole layout of the night. Later they posted on the news and papers the times and what had happened, the police said I lied and got it off the papers and the news but that was impossible. I said times before anything was ever in the news.

ON GEORGE’S ARREST

My daughter was having a sleep over when they came to our home with bullet proof vest and guns, they came and surrounded our apartment. and searched everyone in my home patting them all down….it was very humiliating and very discouraging. George was laying down and they were yelling at him to stand up and he had no shoes and they threw him against the wall and he had no shoes on and my baby was holding his legs crying and I fell to the floor thinking I was going to wake up and that this was a dream.

I cried and called my dad and mom and they came trying to explain the truth but they said we would all lie. George was handcuffed and had no shoes on……my daughter was crying and I was lost………and little did I know this was only the beginning…..my father told the officers to put Georges shoes on and he is not leaving without shoes on,so they did as my father said and put his shoes on,then my father said can you uncuff him so he can hug his family good bye..they refused and one cop, I think Officer Sullivan, said “Do it, where is he going to go?”

They uncuffed him and he held our daughter tight and told her to be brave and that daddy loves her, then he came to me we looked at each other and then he said I love you, I promise I will be home soon and I will be back. I cried and we held each other so tight I never wanted to let him go, I was scared and he was all I had in life and he was all I ever knew….

ON GEORGE’S PREVIOUS RECORD

(It would come up, over and over in the papers, that George had a record of domestic violence, and therefore a violent past that indicated he was capable of violent assault).

I just wanted to let you know it is not what you think. George was loving and kind and never did hit me. We argued and I called the police with a story. It was me that had hit him, and that I tried to fix . I was the one but they don’t listen, so he told me to be quiet (I hit him). He never would hit a fly. He was never violent not at all.

ON COPING IN THE DAYS, MONTHS, and YEARS TO FOLLOW

I had no faith, courage, hope, or anything to live for anymore, he was all I had! The 3 of us. It was always just the 3 of us and no one else, we had no money but were happiest when we were broke.

You ask me how this changed me, the whole arrests and trials and him being locked away.  I was a drug addict and an alcoholic that wanted to die. I became a cutter and cut myself many times and now I write this thinking how far I have come and thank God for not giving up on me!

It was not easy to move on. It was the hardest part for me, because I would have waited for him till the end of time. He broke it off with me when he realized he was not coming home soon. He said it was the best thing for me and for me to move on. It was like a knife cutting in heart. I did not want to move on –  I wanted my life back.

ON SURVIVING AND MOVING ON

I am thankful each and everyday that God sent Jeremiah my way,when I was at the lowest point in my life and just gave up, there he was holding me, a complete mess, promising me everything will be ok and that he would never leave me,and we have been together since………

My life now is good. It was a long recovery and I have my Love who loves me and he had some big shoes to fill, but in the end he understood where I came from and now he helps me. I have 6 kids and a home and a life I love now….I pray for George every day and know someday the truth will reveal itself!

Thank you for hearing my story. Please pray each day that all our prayers be answered…one day my baby and her daddy will be together again……..

– Crystal Sisto

Crystal and George as pictured in their high school year book, a few short years before George was wrongfully convicted of murder.

Read George’s timeline HERE and a touching letter from Crystal and George’s daughter, now 17, HERE. You can read about George’s interrogation and transcripts of it HERE. Crystal was watching Late Night with Conan O’Brien that night. Across town a woman watching that same show was able to provide the time of Hartman’s attack. Read about that HERE.

If you or anyone you know has information about other suspects in the Hartman murder, please come forward. You can call the Innocence Project at 907-279-0454 or email them at info@alaskainnocence.org There is a reward that is always growing for information leading to exoneration.

If you were with any of the Fairbanks Four this night, please consider coming forward and sharing your story.