Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Justice for Anna Mae Aquash: The AIM Myth Busters Report from the Trial of John Graham

Canadian Indians Debbie Maloney (left) and her sister Denise Maloney (right) are the daughters of Anna Mae Aquash, who was executed on Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in 1975 by members of the American Indian Movement (AIM).

The Maloney sisters are talking to reporters on 12-10-10 after the Canadian Indian John Graham was found guilty in 7th Circuit Court in Rapid City, SD, of felony murder involving a kidnapping in connection with the 1975 murder of their mother Anna Mae.

Debbie is a Constable with the Royal Canadian Mounted Police and has been active in the Annie Mae Justice Fund. Her sister Denise is the executive director of the Indigenous Women for Justice. Denise believes her mother was executed by AIM members who thought she knew too much about the murders and other criminal activities perpetrated by the American Indian Movement.
When Anna Mae Aquash was executed by members of the American Indian Movement (AIM), in December 1975, her young daughters (above) were left motherless.

Below, the AIM Mythbusters give their eyewitness account of the trial of John Graham for the murder of Anna Mae Aquash. For more information about AIM's reign of terror, read News from Indian Country and American Indian Mafia by Joe and John Trimbach. Joe Trimbach is a former Agent in Charge of the Minneapolis FBI.

The AIM Myth Busters focus considerable attention on one of the witnesses, Candy Hamilton:

View From the Inside: The Anna Mae Aquash Trial or Candy, Anyone? (12-30-10)

Earlier this month, the unraveling continued in the Pennington County Courthouse concerning the AIM-led cabal that condemned Anna Mae Pictou Aquash to death in 1975. Before he seated the jury, Judge Jack Delaney opened with the words, “Ladies and gentlemen, we are about to begin this trial. It will proceed in this manner.” The judge spelled out how he expected us, the spectators and the families, to behave, and the strict prohibition against the mere possession of an electronic device. So much for the cell phone; I would have to run to the car if I needed it, then rush back so I wouldn’t lose my seat. For the third time since 2004, I had a close-up view of justice in this long overdue murder case, of feeling the emotional ups and downs, and of hearing guilty people lie in the continuing saga of conspiracy on display.

After 35 years, the man accused of actually pulling the trigger of the gun placed to the back of Anna Mae’s head was sitting a few feet away from me, on the other side of the courtroom railing. Defendant John Boy Graham appeared confident that his lawyer, John Murphy, would lay the ground work for a successful defense. In his opening statement, Murphy told the jury that there was “no evidence linking my client to the crime.” But over the course of the seven-day trial, the jury would hear plenty of evidence linking his client to the crime. Really, all the prosecution had to do was let the jury hear about Anna Mae’s final hours, and how John Boy, in the wee hours of December 12, 1975, allegedly shot Anna Mae in the head before pushing her over a 30-foot cliff near Wanblee, South Dakota. Graham faced two counts of aiding and abetting the murder; one as the result of kidnapping Anna Mae and the other as an accessory to pre-meditated murder.

Much of the testimony was rehash from the Arlo Looking Cloud trial of February 2004 and Richard Marshall’s trial of April, 2010. In fact, both men took the stand. It appeared Arlo told the truth and Richard committed perjury, presumably on the advice of counsel, about the murder weapon Marshall says he did not provide. Arlo testified that he was standing a few feet away when Graham pulled the trigger. Following the obligatory testimony from federal investigators concerning the crime scene, former AIM members told how they learned what happened to Anna Mae. Many of them, armed with coached testimony, walked a fine line between implicating others and implicating themselves.

Troy Lynn Yellow Wood, for example, forgot to mention that she provided the rope used to tie Anna Mae’s hands. She recalled, however, as did several follow-on witnesses, that John Boy, Arlo and mother hen Theda Clarke marched Anna Mae out the rear of Troy Lynn’s Denver apartment not long after Corky Gonzalez drew his finger across his throat. A dozen or so onlookers watched as a young woman with her hands bound was led away and loaded into the back of Theda’s red Ford Pinto hatchback. Not one of them called the police, not then or later when they learned how Anna Mae died. Today, each of these witnesses will tell you that they were Anna Mae’s friend.

On the third day, Friday, Judge Delaney ruled that witness Ka-Mook Ecoffey, the former common-law wife of AIM founder Dennis Banks, would not be allowed to tell the jury what convicted killer Leonard Peltier told her and Anna Mae about his role in the murder of two FBI Agents. This undoubtedly came as a disappointment to the prosecution. In his opening statement, US Attorney Marty Jackley (deputized by the state of South Dakota), had said that Peltier admitted murdering FBI Agent Ron Williams. This was one of the reasons Anna Mae posed a threat to those who thought she was an informant; she knew too much. Peltier’s boast might have been the last straw for Anna Mae’s accusers; now they had to get rid of her. As Jackley put it, “She now had seriously incriminating evidence against Leonard Peltier.” Late on Friday, however, Judge Delaney reversed himself and informed the attorneys he would allow Ka-Mook to say the words she had already mentioned under oath at the first two trials: “The mother---er was begging for his life, but I shot him anyway.”

Over the weekend, I was invited to a book signing at the Prairie Edge bookstore and museum, and then to a short trip to the Crazy Horse memorial. There in the gift shop, we found two stacks of American Indian Mafia, prophetically surrounding Russell Means’ Where White Men Fear To Tread. Since Russ and his AIM buddies were nowhere to been seen during the trial, perhaps they are the ones who are fearful now. They should fear, for their freedom. Justice will have its say. On Sunday, I was invited to a predawn ceremony atop the cliff where Anna Mae was left to die. It was deadly cold, much like that night when, as Arlo says, Anna Mae was still moving at the bottom of the ravine. Justice must prevail.

People often ask why it took so long to begin indicting those responsible. Another way of asking the question might be: How did the AIM leaders and their lawyers keep the troops in line all these years? Well, for starters, as one the members later recalled, “No one ever crossed Russell or Dennis.” The agreed-upon story, first aired in Peter Matthiessen’s somewhat farcical, In the Spirit of Crazy Horse, was that the FBI was behind the murder. Former AIM legal aid Candy Hamilton likes to tell this story. In fact, she carried that chum bucket into the courtroom.

On the witness stand, Candy crowed that the FBI and their Agent David Price, one of the investigators who worked on the case, were perhaps more likely suspects than say, Dennis Banks, Russell Means, Clyde Bellecourt, Dave Hill, Bill Means, Ted Means, Lorelie DeCora Means, Madonna Gilbert, Angie Begay, Tom Poor Bear, Charlie Abourezk, Ken Tilsen, or the Pinto trio who simply followed orders. This would be the same Candy Hamilton who had fairly frequent contact with several of those involved; the same Candy Hamilton who forgot to mention that she saw AIM attorney Bruce Ellison waving a piece of paper and claiming it was proof that Anna Mae was a traitor. And later, when it was obvious that Anna Mae had been murdered by Candy’s associates, she showed no interest in contacting law enforcement. Candy says she didn’t know who to trust. Seriously? Was Candy really suggesting that her AIM pals conspired with the people trying to solve the murder? Gosh, I guess everyone was against Anna Mae, except Candy of course.

For the most part, Candy’s story fell on deaf ears. At one time, the “FBI did it” theory had more legs. Today, after so many revelations of AIM complicity, the old saw has dulled. And as I put it to the Rapid City Journal, which gave Candy’s cackling a headline, the wheel of justice looks momentarily, then plows right through the nonsense. Hamilton’s story is still embraced by many of the people involved in the conspiracy, however. Along with a long list of complaints about his extradition from Canada, poor John Boy wanted it known that he also believed the FBI was somehow complicit in the murder he stood accused of committing. You see, Graham’s story was that he dropped Anna Mae off at a friend’s house, not off a cliff.

On the sixth day of the trial, the government rested its case. Now it was up to counselor Murphy to undo the damage from ten witnesses, each of whom had tied his client to the kidnapping and subsequent ride into the wilderness. The next morning, when Judge Delaney asked him if he was ready to call his first witness, Murphy responded, “Judge, the defense rests.” Graham’s defender was perhaps acknowledging that he had no earthly idea how to present evidence that would bolster his client’s story about an AIM safe house where supposedly Anna Mae was let go.

Graham’s supporters might have wondered why he himself didn’t take the stand. Graham would have presumably told the jury all about that house somewhere on the Pine Ridge reservation and how, after talking it over with Arlo and Theda, he emancipated Anna Mae. Poor girl must have run into some bad luck that night. Some safe house, huh? The jury never heard Graham’s description of the building that otherwise had no address, no physical description, no identifying characteristics, no owner, no chain of title, no utility bills, no tax receipts, no records of any kind. Maybe the reason Graham was kept off the stand is that he simply couldn’t remember where this house of safety was, who was living there, or if it had running water and a welcome mat.

No defense was supposedly no problem, but how to explain it to the ignorant masses? Once again, it was the Rapid City Journal to the rescue. Quoting an expert on such matters, attorney Robert Van Norman, the Journal explained that defense witnesses might not hold up too well on cross-examination, that is, if the defense had any witnesses worth calling. Perhaps Murphy thought better about putting AIM supporter and Graham defender David Seals on the stand, the one person who might have endorsed Graham’s safe house story. But then, on cross-examination, the prosecution would have had the chance to question Seals about his abduction by aliens, a story he also swears is true. Maybe Van Norman has a point.

For some of us in the courtroom, Graham’s fate was foretold by his victim, observed during Arlo’s rather damning testimony. It began with a knock on the courtroom back door. When the bailiff answered, there was no one there. A few moments later, the projector came on, casting a white beam on the wall. I was sitting a few feet away from it when this happened, and no one touched the darn thing. The prosecutors had been using it to show evidentiary photographs and perhaps now it was showing the light of truth. And then, in the middle of Arlo’s testimony, Judge Delaney’s landline phone began ringing, and he could not turn it off. Perhaps this was Anna Mae’s way of saying that the jury should believe Arlo. Apparently, they did.

After closing arguments on Thursday, the case went to the jury. The last thing the jury heard was state prosecutor Rod Oswald telling them that Graham’s safe house idea was just plain stupid. The end came in a few tension-filled moments. Late in the afternoon, after being hung on one of the charges, the jury came back with a 1 and 1; not guilty on the pre-meditation count, guilty on the kidnapping and accessory to murder. Either one was a fatal defeat for the defense, and for the others involved. By taking his client to state court, Murphy may have blundered, perhaps thinking he would have an easier time raising reasonable doubt under state statute. Graham will get life and fare worse than the parole-eligible Arlo Looking Cloud, convicted in 2004 of aiding and abetting the murder. Because, under state sentencing rules, Graham’s life sentence comes wrapped in a no-parole blanket. Graham will live the rest of his life behind bars, forever wondering if he should have cooperated with investigators.

Leonard Peltier likewise cannot be happy about the verdict, or about what was said of him. Witness Yellow Wood had offered that Anna Mae was first interrogated by Peltier some six months before her death. After he put a gun in Anna Mae’s mouth, Yellow Wood testified that Peltier laughed it off, saying that he wanted to “…hear it from the horse’s mouth.” With each new revelation, it becomes clearer that Peltier was in consultation with Dennis Banks over the fate of Anna Mae. And like Banks, Peltier has a problem answering a question, as posed by Anna Mae’s daughter, Denise: “I’m interested to know how Peltier knew my mother was dead in December when her unidentified body wasn’t found until February 24, and our family wasn’t informed that my mother was dead until March 5?” A very good question, given Peltier’s admissions:

“I wasn’t running to Canada just to hide. I spend most of my time in the United States.”

“I think it was around that December when I heard that Anna Mae was dead. I was in that jail over there in Canada right around whenever they exposed who she really was and what she died from, but I believe I didn’t hear about it until December.”

And then there’s Peltier’s mistaken belief that the two young investigators he shot to death were looking for him:

“I can’t tell the system I was shooting at their police officers that were trying to arrest me…”

If Graham flips, perhaps he will clarify all the above. There were, after all, a lot of people involved in Anna Mae’s thoroughly pre-meditated murder. As Graham was quoted as saying when he was fighting extradition from his native Canada, “When everything comes out, I’ll have a lot of people to go with me.” Candy, anyone?


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Not one word about Robert Ecoffey's role in Anna Mae's death? What a sham report! Shame on you. You still haven't figured out who really killed Anna Mae.

12:04 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

To the lunatic above- Yes that's correct Bob Ecoffey murdered Anna Mae and the Queen Of England is a shape -shifting. reptilian alien -controlled by a global Jewish cabal who blew up the twin towers. David Icke is the Son Of God.

The real issue is why the teen-aged foot-soldiers are doing life-sentences while the real murderers are feted as heroes, paid by Holywood "writing" books and getting off with all their crimes. but history will catch up with them some day if there are one or two brave. good people who tell the truth.

6:52 PM  

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