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KNBA News - Spice drug emergencies overwhelm response; 2 of Fbks 4 say they lied under pressure

Anchorage officials call Spice drug crisis ‘unsustainable’

By Zacharia Hughes, Alaska Public Radio Network

Wednesday, Anchorage officials told Assembly members spice-related incidents are creating an unsustainable burden on emergency responders in the city.

Fire Chief Dennis LeBlanc says there have been days this month when almost half of all emergency transports are spice-related [48%], and additional vehicles had to be called in from Eagle River to respond.

Acute reactions to the drug have meant a dramatically high rate of field intubations, and exhaustion among emergency responders and hospital staffs.

The mayor's administration introduced an ordinance that imposes criminal penalties on using and selling spice and similar products, and lets officers get warrants that allow them to build larger cases against manufacturers and sellers of the drug. 

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Fear, confusion prompted false confessions, say two of the Fairbanks Four

By Dan Bross, KUAC - Fairbanks

Two of the Fairbanks Four say they lied to police about some of what they did the October 1997 night John Hartman was attacked, but maintain they did so out of fear and confusion, not guilt. Kevin Pease and Eugene Vent took to the stand Tuesday at an ongoing evidentiary hearing to consider whether they and two others also convicted of the crime, George Frese and Marvin Roberts, are innocent.

Kevin Pease told the court he resorted to a lie about being with his girlfriend the night John Hartman was fatally beaten on a downtown street because he had not tracked the time during a rambling night of partying and travel around town.

“I lied because I was scared. I lied because I wasn’t there. And you know, it’s just…. I knew everything was not going right. And I did not handle the situation correctly.

Eugene Vent, who’d been drinking heavily during the night, including at a party with Pease, said he blacked out for part of it, before being picked up by police. During questioning Tuesday by his attorney, Pease admitted to lying to police about some of the events of the evening, saying he confessed to involvement in the Hartman attack after Police offered false evidence.

“Tellin’ me that there was blood… and that my footprints were in the blood — numerous times.

Vent said he reconsidered his confession after sobering up.

“I just realized that… I wasn’t with Marvin. I wasn’t with George…. um… I know I blacked out from 3:00 until I got arrested. And I just, I got a chance to think. And I just realized that there’s no way I could’ve done nothing like this.”

Tuesday’s testimony by Vent and Pease followed that of George Frese last week. Marvin Roberts has yet to take the stand.

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“I was with them … I knew they were innocent”

By Joaqlin Estus, KNBA – Anchorage

Conan Goebel testified in the case last week, then came to Anchorage for the Alaska Federation of Natives convention, where I talked with him about the case.

“I grew up with Kevin Peese, George Freese and Marvin Roberts and Eugene Vent. They’re all really good friends of mine. We went to high school together,” said Goebel. “I was with them the night that they were accused of this crime. I was actually with them when the murder happened. So, I knew that they were innocent.

“And because of that information, they didn’t talk to me,” he continued.” The detectives knew the information I had, and, they didn’t allow me to talk about their innocence. I had valuable information to help them, and they didn’t subpoena me. I was also threatened by detectives that if I didn’t tell them what he wanted to hear, he was going to arrest me for the murder as well.”

His age at the time?

“I was sixteen years old,” said Goebel.”

He said that was a lot of pressure for a teenager.

“It was, and it was scary,” said Goebel. “And unfortunately they did it to a lot of young Natives. And a lot of ‘em couldn’t handle the pressure. A lot of them broke down. I’ve talked to them and they’re still affected from it today even.”

“… They still, even to this day, feel that their life isn’t safe, that it affected them. This many years later, they’re still struggling with it.”

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