[Ppnews] Omaha Police detective's "evidence" in Black Panther murder case disappeared

Political Prisoner News ppnews at freedomarchives.org
Mon Feb 25 10:54:16 EST 2008

Original Content at 

February 24, 2008

Omaha Police detective's "evidence" in Black 
Panther murder case disappeared without a trace raising perjury question

By Michael Richardson

The tragic bombing murder of Omaha Police 
patrolman Larry Minard on August 17, 1970 
triggered a series of events, monitored  by J. 
Edgar Hoover, director of the Federal Bureau of 
Investigation, that led to the ultimate release 
of Minard's confessed killer, Duane Peak, after 
several years of juvenile detention.

Peak's brokered testimony, which bought his 
freedom, implicated two leaders of Omaha's Black 
Panther chapter, the National Committee to Combat 
Fascism.  Ed Poindexter and Mondo we Langa, 
formerly David Rice, had been under surveillance 
by Hoover's secret, and illegal, COINTELPRO 
operation designed to "disrupt" the Black 
Panthers, were named by Peak as his 
co-conspirators.  Both Poindexter and Langa were 
convicted of murder and  are incarcerated at the 
maximum security Nebraska State Penitentiary 
serving life sentences.  Both men deny any involvement in the crime.

Although Peak was the prosecution's murderous 
star witness, the testimony of Omaha detective 
Robert Pheffer was also critical to the case as 
he corroborated the account of detective Jack 
Swanson's claim to have found dynamite in Langa's 
basement at the trial.  Pheffer has since 
contradicted his own trial testimony and now 
claims, under oath, that he found the dynamite 
raising a question of perjury, either at the 
trial or at a May 2007 hearing before Douglas 
County District Court Judge Russell Bowie who was 
considering a new trial request by Poindexter.

When confronted by Poindexter's attorney, Robert 
Barle, over the discrepancy between his 1971 
testimony  at trial and his 2007 sworn testimony 
before Bowie, Pheffer became noticeably flustered 
and denied his own trial testimony claiming "the 
court reporter, somebody got it wrong."

Dynamite never appeared in any evidence photos of 
Langa's house and only first shows up in the 
trunk of a police squad car in any photograph.

Pheffer's new claim to have found the dynamite 
brings into question other "evidence" discovered 
by the Omaha detective in the course of the 
investigation.  Pheffer has testified to the 
discovery of other bomb-making supplies at two 
locations--claims not supported by the trial 
record or any police reports.  Thus, the question 
of Pheffer's credibility hinges on whether or not 
police destroyed or hid evidence of bomb-making 
equipment, allegedly found by Pheffer, at two different search locations.

At Langa's house, where Pheffer now claims he 
found dynamite in the basement, Pheffer testified 
to Judge Bowie that he also found in a bedroom 
closet three gray Samsonite attaché cases with 
wires sticking out of them.  Pheffer claims after 
finding the three attaché cases a rope was passed 
through the handles and "lead it out the bedroom 
through the front room, outside the steps" where 
the cases were opened when they did not 
detonate.  Pheffer's dramatic discovery of the 
wired attaché cases was not mentioned at trial 
nor were the purported bomb parts introduced as 
evidence.  Pheffer didn't even bother to enter 
the attaches cases into the inventory list of the 
search.  Nor did any other officer.  In fact, 
Pheffer is the sole witness to the "evidence" he 
now claims to have found that somehow disappeared without a trace.

At NCCF headquarters, in a search the same 
day,  Pheffer found more "evidence" with another 
attaché case with wires.  Pheffer did testify 
about that purported discovery in 1971.  Pheffer 
testified he found, "an attache case in the front 
room with wires and a clothespin attached to 
it."  Yet once again, Pheffer failed to log in 
the attaché case or even record it on the search 
inventory list.  No other officers filed reports 
or testified about the case and it was not 
produced at trial as evidence despite Pheffer's claims.

 From the Nebraska State Penitentiary in Lincoln 
writes Ed Poindexter, "Robert Pheffer said at our 
trial that when he and company raided NCCF on 
24th Street that he saw several unarmed suitcase 
bombs in various stages of development
was lying right in front of the jury."

"Needless to say, said bomb finding did not exist 
on the record; that is, they were not on the 
inventory list of items confiscated from HQ, and 
no one else appeared to have seen them, and of 
course they did not exist in evidence.  Yet he 
went totally unchallenged in the courtroom when he blurted this out."

"I've been harping on this for umpteen years, but 
for some reason, no one likes to talk about it."

In a recent prison interview Langa commented on 
Pheffer's conflicting testimony, "We come up to 
the present and here is Pheffer talking about we 
found a box of dynamite in David Rice's house facing next to the furnace."

"I'm thinking about this.  Well, if a person was 
going to keep his dynamite next to the furnace 
and I imagine it is to keep it warm, then it 
would also make sense that if there were blasting 
caps in the house then it would probably have 
been a good thing to have these kept like on top 
of the stove to be consistent with this kind of absurdity.  But it was a make."

FBI agents assigned to COINTELPRO worked closely 
with Omaha Police investigating the Black 
Panthers.  One of the techniques common to 
COINTELPRO operations was creating false 
documents and making false statements to "disrupt" the Panthers.

Judge Bowie ruled Pheffer's contradictory 
dynamite testimony did not matter and did not 
address the four attaché cases with wires that 
have vanished which Pheffer claims to have found 
at two locations when he denied Poindexter's bid for a new trial in September.

Now the Nebraska Supreme Court must grapple with 
Pheffer's contradictory testimony and his missing 
"evidence" which has left gaping holes in the 
case against the two imprisoned Black 
Panthers.  A date for the decision in Poindexter's appeal has not been set.
  Permission granted to reprint.

Authors Bio: Michael Richardson is a freelance 
writer based in Boston. Richardson writes about 
politics, election law, human nutrition, ethics, 
and music. Richardson is also a political consultant on ballot access.

Freedom Archives
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San Francisco, CA 94110

415 863-9977

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