The Fairbanks Four were convicted primarily on the eyewitness testimony of Arlo Olson, who testified that he was able to identify the four men, two of whom he had never seen before, from 550 feet away in the dark.
We recently posted the details of Olson’s testimony, audio recordings of his multiple recantations, discussed his motivations, inconsistencies, recantations of recantations, and his personal criminal history. (READ THAT HERE) We have also discussed how Olson’s testimony about the assault of Frank Dayton was not even consistent with Frank Dayton’s recollection. (HERE)
This is a photograph taken 16 years to the date and time of the night Frank Dayton was assaulted. Arlo testified that he identified the Fairbanks Four from this vantage point and in this lighting. According to his testimony he identified they would have been essentially next to the furthest visible building on the left, there is a parked car with headlights on at the exact location to mark the spot. We have discussed this multiple times. Those posts and conversations have their place. It is important to understand HOW and WHY a wrongful conviction occurs. But the reality is that discussions of how or why Arlo Olson lied in his testimony don’t really matter anymore. The filing by the Alaska Innocence Project filed for post conviction relief of the basis of innocence for the Fairbanks Four contains expert scientific review of the testimony that makes a very simple and indisputable claim: it is impossible for Olson, or any human being, to identify anyone from 550 feet away.
The evaluation of Olson’s testimony was completed by an extraordinarily well qualified scientist who uses this photograph of a well-known celebrity to illustrate what the eye can see from 550 feet away in optimal conditions and daylight. Can you recognize the face? Obviously, no, you can’t. No one can. Plainly stated, no human being can identify a face from that distance.
Here is the photograph, with a representation below of the loss of perception and size at varying lengths. This issue is settled. The sky is blue, grass is green, and Arlo Olson lied in court, simple as that. There was a time when many believed to world was flat. Science sometimes answers these questions, and logic has once again prevailed.
The testimony was absurd to begin with. The idea that four men were sent to prison based on it is astounding and unforgivable. Yet, the state of Alaska considered this their most important evidence, the very prosecutor who convicted them said that without the testimony they had “no case,” and to this day imprisons the Fairbanks Four on the strength of that claim. The entire expert statement is contained in the filing we link to below for readers to review on their own.
The Fairbanks Four were not sent to jail on accident. They were not unlucky bystanders in an unfortunate misunderstanding. We believe they were the victims of irresponsible work at best, and more likely corruption. The lies of Arlo Olson were purchased by police and prosecutors with an offer of leniency in his own crimes, and if his account is to be believed, he was threatened with prosecution for perjury if he recanted. The bottom line is that there is abundant evidence that Olson’s testimony was flawed and untruthful, and now there is clear, concise, correct scientific proof.
The State of Alaska’s current response to this case is that they are sure they are right, but will now do an independent investigation of themselves, by themselves, and until that time will remain silent. We have said before, and will say again, that the enemy of the truth is not a lie, it is silence. In their silence they remain the enemy of the truth.
Application for Post Conviction Relief: