State introduces first witnesses in Fairbanks 4 hearing

The state has begun calling witnesses in the Fairbanks Four evidentiary hearing.

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As the proceeding stretches into its 4th week, the focus has shifted from witnesses summoned by attorneys representing exoneration petitioners George Frese, Kevin Pease, Marvin Roberts and Eugene Vent to those offered by state lawyers trying to uphold the men’s convictions for the 1997 murder of John Hartman.

Monday, Fairbanks resident Stephen Paskvan testified that he gave Eugene’s Vent’s mother, Ida Hogue, a ride to the airport shortly after her son was arrested for the Hartman attack. Paskvan recounted a brief conversation in which he says Hogue shared something Eugene told her.

“That he assured he that, ‘Mom, I never got out of the car,'” Paskvan said.

The comment presumably references a car Vent and the other 3 men allegedly rode around the city in the night Hartman was assaulted on a downtown street.

Hogue testified she does not remember the comment, and doesn’t know Paskvan.

“I never spoke to him,” Hogue said.

Also yesterday, in a video deposition, cab driver Veronica Solomon recounts seeing four men around a car at the scene of the Hartman attack, about the time of the assault.

Solomon says she tried unsuccessfully to report it to police a few weeks later, but avoided news about the case until 2005, when she looked up a picture of the Fairbanks Four.

“Marvin Roberts clearly to me looked like the person that was standing by the door and, I think it was Kevin Pease, he’s the light colored person, I think I remember his name as being the one that looked like the person by the driver’s door,” Solomon said.

Solomon describes a car different from the one the Fairbanks Four are alleged to have been in the night of the Hartman attack.

Solomon says she shared her story with a State Trooper re-investigating the Fairbanks Four case last year.

Dan Bross is a reporter at KUAC in Fairbanks.

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