Expert disputes boot print evidence in Fairbanks 4 case

Boot print evidence used to link one of the Fairbanks Four to the 1997 murder of John Hartman, are disputed by a forensic expert.

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Independent consultant Lesly Hammer testified Friday at an ongoing evidentiary hearing into whether George Frese, Kevin Pease, Marvin Roberts and Eugene Vent, men known as the Fairbanks Four, convicted of the Hartman attack, are in fact innocent.

Hammer, a former Alaska State Crime lab employee, said prints from George Frese’s boot cannot be matched to photos of imprints on the badly beaten Hartman.

“I found no correspondence between the injuries that I observed, those feature shapes of injuries, and any of the shapes of the shoe lugs as represented on that partial shoe impression,” she said.

Hammer further commented that the examination techniques and analysis presented at 1999 trials show lack of training.

“Didn’t appear to be some of the basic understanding of the discipline itself, basic application of methods or importance of scale in the examination,” she said.

Hammer’s testimony, which included observations based on recent developments in the field of shoe impression analysis, was objected to by state attorneys as redundant of evidence previously presented at trials. The hearing resumes tomorrow (Tues.), when Kevin Pease is scheduled to take the stand.

Dan Bross is a reporter at KUAC in Fairbanks.

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