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The Fairbanks Four

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 Brio    1,038

Daniel Jennings)  The price of freedom can be very steep in Alaska. Four innocent men, locked away for nearly two decades, had to sign away their rights to sue prosecutors who had wrongly charged them, in order to get out of prison.

The four were accused of beating 15-year-old John Hartman to death in Fairbanks in 1997, and the case generated much controversy in Alaska because all of them are Native-American.

They remained in prison even though the case against them fell apart in 2014, when a key government witness signed an affidavit saying that police coerced him into blaming the four and that he had made up the story. Two years earlier, a convicted killer had said he had seen someone else – and not the four men – commit the crime.

That was probably enough for a judge to exonerate the “Fairbanks Four,” but both sides knew that it could take more than six months for the legal process to run its course and the men to be freed.

After the case collapsed, prosecutors who had been fighting to keep the men in prison made a deal,Newsweek reported. They would let them walk free instantly if they signed away the right to sue the state for prosecutorial misconduct.



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