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By Carson Walker
RAPID CITY — Federal prosecutors want jurors in the upcoming trial of a Canadian man to see evidence that he sexually assaulted Annie Mae Pictou Aquash, bound her hands and kept her in a Ford Pinto's hatch before shooting her.

John Graham's first-degree murder trial starts Oct. 6 in federal court for the December 1975 slaying of Aquash, a fellow Canadian, on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation.

Both were American Indian Movement members, as was Arlo Looking Cloud, who was convicted in 2004 and sentenced to a mandatory life prison term for his role.

Witnesses at his trial said he, Graham and another AIM member, Theda Clark, drove Aquash from Denver and that Graham shot Aquash in the Badlands as she begged for her life.

Clark has not been charged. She lives in a nursing home in western Nebraska.

Graham has denied killing Aquash, though he acknowledged being in the car with her from Denver.

A third AIM member, Dick Marshall, has been indicted and pleaded not guilty to aiding and abetting first-degree murder.

U.S. Attorney Marty Jackley and Assistant U.S. Attorney Bob Mandel filed notice late Friday that they plan to introduce evidence into Graham's trial supporting the charge that Graham killed Aquash.

They wrote that Graham and other people abducted Aquash from Troy Lynn Yellow Wood's house in Denver, tied Aquash's hands with rope and put her in the hatch of Clark's red Ford Pinto.

Aquash was kept there against her will on the drive to Rapid City and then to the Rosebud and Pine Ridge reservations, the prosecutors wrote.

And while guarding Aquash in an empty apartment in Rapid City, Graham sexually assaulted her, according to the document.

Jackley and Mandel argued in their notice that federal rules would allow the introduction of the evidence because it is connected to the case, explains the circumstances of the crime and proves elements of the crime.

"Defendant's actions with respect to the abduction and aggravated sexual abuse of the victim go directly to defendant's intent and premeditation, which is an element of the offense. It is further evidence of the victim's state of mind.

"Indeed, evidence of defendant's contact immediately before, during, and after the murder is admissible as part and parcel of the entire transaction and is such indicative of his intent to commit and ultimately carry through with committing and aiding and abetting in first degree murder," the prosecutors wrote.

A rancher found Aquash's body Feb. 24, 1976, north of Wanblee.

The first autopsy found strong acid phosphate in the vagina, which "does constitute evidence in support of the allegation that defendant John Graham raped the victim at Thelma Rios' apartment on or about December 10-11, 1975," Jackley and Mandel wrote in an earlier motion.

Graham's lawyer, John Murphy, obtained a court order to test Aquash's underwear for DNA evidence that he said could point to someone else. That testing is being done.

Prosecutors earlier included in the court file an FBI report indicating no blood or semen was found on the panties.
—Associated Press


I would think with all the controversy around this case a lot more of Anna Mae's AIM brothers and sisters would have years ago stepped up to the plate and disclosed all they knew about her murder. How does an organization that supposedly works for the good of all Native Americans not support the conviction of one of their members for murdering another in cold blood? I know for a fact that our strongest warriors are our women. Anyone familiar with Anna Mae's murder should be appalled that the ones responsible are Native American. Some of these AIM "warriors" are sun-dancers and pipe carriers; why the lack of truth and motivation to rid society of these people who think so little of murdering one of their own? What if this was your sister or family member? How would you feel knowing someone knew what happened to her and who did it? Are we that selfish to protect her murderers, especially considering all she did for our people? No wonder many people see AIM in the way they do. Pilamaya.

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