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Forum Home - Go Back > General > Native Life > News Jury convicts man in US Indian activist’s death Jury convicts man in US Indian activist’s death

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Old 12-14-2010, 07:50 PM   #1
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Jury convicts man in US Indian activist’s death

By Nomaan Merchant
Rapid City, South Dakota (AP)

Jurors needed only about four hours to agree that John Graham and two other American Indian Movement supporters kidnapped a fellow activist in 1975 and killed her on the Pine Ridge reservation, one jury member said. But they weren’t all convinced it was Graham who pulled the trigger.

After a second day of deliberations last week, the 12 jurors convicted Graham of felony murder during the kidnapping of Annie Mae Aquash – whose death came to symbolize AIM and its often violent struggles with federal agents during the 1970s – but acquitted him of premeditated murder.

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Old 12-14-2010, 08:03 PM   #2
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I'm glad he was convicted, I hope now the Feds can focus on some of the AIM leadership and bring them to justice for the role that they played. Prayers for Annie Mae's daughters and family.
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Old 12-15-2010, 03:24 PM   #3
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(I wonder if Rios was going to implicate a different person as the triggerman?)


Questions remain after reservation slaying verdict - San Jose Mercury News

Prosecutors did not address at trial who ordered Aquash's death. Several former leaders of the group—which gained prominence in the 1970s but has since faded from public view—have denied being involved.

During five days of testimony at Graham's trial, prosecution witnesses testified they saw Graham and two other AIM supporters tie Aquash's hands and place her in the back of a red Ford Pinto. The three took Aquash from Denver to Rapid City and then toward South Dakota's Pine Ridge reservation, witnesses testified.

But several expected witnesses—including Thelma Rios, who pleaded guilty last month in connection with Aquash's kidnapping—did not testify at Graham's trial. One witness, Angie Janis, testified that Rios called her in November 1975 to say Aquash was an informant and needed to be taken from Denver, where she was living, to Rapid City.

Rios' testimony could shed light on who asked her to make that call. Jackley would not comment on why Rios didn't testify at Graham's trial.

"I will tell you that it wasn't an oversight," he said. "We certainly discussed it within our trial strategy, but that's all I can disclose."

Paul DeMain, an Indian journalist who's long researched the Aquash case, likened Graham and the two other activists to soldiers following orders.

"Somewhere in that pyramid, it leads right to the top," he said, adding that he thought more than one leader was involved.

Russell Means, an early leader of AIM, has blamed Vernon Bellecourt, another group leader, for ordering the murder. When asked before the trial whether he was involved, Means replied, "Get real."

Vernon Bellecourt denied allegations against him in a 2004 interview with The Associated Press, four years before he died.

"To this day I don't know who shot Anna Mae Aquash," he said at the time.

Two other leaders, Clyde Bellecourt and Dennis Banks, have declined to comment.

Aquash, a member of the Mi'kmaq tribe of Nova Scotia, was 30 when she died. Her death came about two years after she participated in AIM's 71-day occupation of the South Dakota reservation town of Wounded Knee.
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