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KNBA News - Fairbanks Four testimony: Classmate says Wallace confessed to him

By Dan Bross, KUAC – Fairbanks

A man who claims a high school classmate told him he and group of  friends killed John Hartman back in 1997, testified in state court in Fairbanks Thursday. Scott Davison appeared at an ongoing hearing on evidence in the murder, for which four other local men were convicted, and are seeking exoneration. Following the discovery of 15-year-old Hartman badly beaten on a downtown street in October 1997, Davison says fellow Lathrop High student Jason Wallace talked about the crime.

"He had a newspaper in his right hand and he took  ownership of what was in that newspaper which was the murder of John Hartman,” said Davison.

Davison told the court that Wallace, who’s now serving time for another murder, threatened to kill him if he said anything. Davison says he initially kept the secret, but could not stop thinking about it.

"You can't just block it out. And I tried,” said Davison. “I tried drinking it out, drugging it out. A confession like that does not leave you, especially when you know in your heart that other people are doing time that’s not theirs.”

Davison, who’s been in and out of incarceration, says he even told a Fairbanks police investigator, but nothing came of the information, until he was contacted in prison by Alaska Innocence Project Director Bill Oberly.

"Someone actually took me serious, someone with somewhat of authority that could do something about it,” said Davison.

Davison signed an affidavit about what he knew, a document he now says isn’t completely accurate, because he did not thoroughly vet it.

State assistant attorney general Adrienne Bachman picked apart Davison’s affidavit and testimony, including his recounted struggle to remember her name and title.

"Your memory, not so good is it?” asked Bachman. Davison replied. “I'm not the sharpest tool in the shed.”

Davison says he only remembers one other name from a group of people Wallace said were involved in the Hartman attack: William Holmes, who’s serving time for unrelated killings. Both Holmes and Wallace have confessed to involvement in the Hartman incident.

Changing Arctic: Do Americans know they live in an Arctic nation?

By Tim Ellis, KUAC - Fairbanks

The top U.S. diplomat representing the nation’s Arctic interests says America’s lack of knowledge about the region limits the United States from playing a bigger role there.

“There’s a disconnect,” said Robert Papp. He says Americans don’t consider themselves citizens of an Arctic nation, probably because most of them don’t know much about Alaska.

“All the other Arctic countries are connected to the Arctic. It’s in their culture,” said Papp. “But the United States is probably the least connected to their Arctic because we are physically disconnected, Alaska is.”

“Honestly, I will show a map of the U.S., and Alaska is often much smaller than Texas and is usually off the coast of Baja, California,” he continued.

John Farrell is executive director of the U.S. Arctic Research Commission. And he says most of the nation’s leaders in Washington, D.C., share the public’s ignorance of the far north.

“Being inside the Beltway down here, it’s just a constant effort to try to … remind everyone that we are an Arctic nation, that this is an important topic,” said Farrell.

Farrell says anyone who’s dealt with Arctic issues knows about that lack of awareness, and how it makes it more difficult to gain support for projects in a time of tight budgets and competing interests.

“Like with everything in this town, it’s just a competition for bandwidth,” said Farrell.

But Farrell says not much is known about Americans’ overall attitudes about
the Arctic, because there’s been almost no research on the subject. Until

“There’s a general sense that Americans don’t think of themselves as (citizens of) an Arctic nation,” said Farrel. “But that is anecdotal.”

Zachary Hamilla is a former Naval intelligence analyst who’s researched the Arctic for several years. He’s now a political science adjunct at Portland State University and he runs his own research organization. And he’s about to launch a nationwide survey of Americans’ knowledge and attitudes about Alaska and the Arctic.

Hamilla said, “The goal of this project is to start down the path of developing a broader understanding of ‘Do Americans think of themselves as an Arctic country?’ ”

Hamilla says he hopes to release a report on his surveys early next year. And he hopes his project, which he funded through an online Kickstarter campaign, will lead to more in-depth studies on the issue.