Lawyer seeks to vacate conviction in 1997 Fairbanks teen beating death

Posted: Thursday, January 25, 2001

FAIRBANKS (AP) -- A lawyer for man convicted of second-degree murder in the 1997 beating death of a Fairbanks teen says there is new evidence that indicates his client did not commit the crime.

Marvin Roberts, 23, was one of four men convicted of killing John Hartman, 15. Roberts' lawyer, Dick Madson, has filed a motion to vacate the verdict, asking the court to reconsider the decision based on new findings.

Madson told KTVF-TV in Fairbanks that his request is based on a new witness whose testimony Madson believes would throw Roberts' conviction into doubt. He did not give details on what that witness would say.

Madson and prosecutor Jay Hodges were present at a hearing on the request Tuesday in state Superior Court. Nome Superior Court Judge Ben Esch presided over the hearing by phone.

Roberts, 23, was sentenced last year to 33 years in prison after being convicted of second-degree murder in the death of Hartman. Hartman was found lying unconscious at the corner of a downtown street Oct. 9, 1997. He had been kicked repeatedly in the head and sexually assaulted. He died of his injuries the following day.

Besides Roberts, Kevin Pease was sentenced to 79 years in prison, Eugene Vent to 38 years and George Frese to 77 years. It's not known how a new witness would could affect the other cases.

The next court hearing on Madson's request will be in April.

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