[Ppnews] Framed by the FBI: A dozen reasons the 'Omaha Two' deserve a new trial

Political Prisoner News ppnews at freedomarchives.org
Mon Mar 2 14:09:04 EST 2009

Original Content at 

March 2, 2009

Framed by the FBI: A dozen reasons the 'Omaha Two' deserve a new trial

By Michael Richardson

On August 17, 1970, an Omaha, Nebraska policeman, Larry Minard, was 
murdered in an ambush bombing at a vacant house.  Two men, Edward 
Poindexter and Mondo we Langa (formerly David Rice), are serving life 
sentences at the Nebraska State Penitentiary for his killing.  The 
pair were leaders of Omaha's chapter of the Black Panther 
Party.  Most people assume justice was done in the case and little 
effort has been made by the news media to dig into the hidden aspects 
of the crime.

Poindexter has a new trial request pending before the Nebraska 
Supreme Court and an examination of the record, much of it still 
hidden by Federal Bureau of Investigation censors, reveals a dozen 
reasons to question the outcome of the trial.

1)  The 911 call that lured police into a lethal trap

It was a hot summer night when the call came in.  A deep male voice 
said a woman was screaming at a vacant house on Ohio street.  The 
police dispatcher sent several two-man cars to investigate.  As eight 
officers fanned out to search the house and yard one of them stooped 
to check out a suitcase near a doorway.  The blast killed 29 year-old 
Larry Minard instantly.

While an intense investigation ensued, the single-most important 
piece of evidence was the 911 recording of the killer's voice that 
lured police into the lethal trap.  The FBI immediately offered to 
analyze the tape recording to attempt an identification of the killer 
by comparison of voice samples--under certain conditions.  Neither 
the FBI nor Assistant Chief of Police Glen W. Gates wanted the 
results made public.

The Omaha World-Herald quoted, in a front-page story 'Voiceprint in 
Bombing to FBI Lab', acting-Chief of Police Walter J. Devere that the 
recording would be a good investigative tool.  What Devere didn't 
know or was withholding from the public was the truth of the 
matter--the recording was not to be used to find the killer.

The very day of the bombing, the recording was sent to Washington, 
D.C. for analysis at the FBI Crime Laboratory.  However, a request 
was made from Omaha to issue no lab report on the results.  When FBI 
Crime Laboratory director Ivan Willard Conrad got the unusual request 
he talked with J. Edgar Hoover, director of the FBI, and was told to 
withhold a report on the recording.  Conrad scrawled on the memo, 
"Dir advised telephonically & said OK to do."  Conrad then initialed 
and dated the memo entry, two days after Minard's death.  The 
clandestine memo ended the search for truth in the case.

On October 13, 1970, the Omaha FBI office updated Hoover on the 
status of the deception.  "Asst. COP GLENN GATES, Omaha PD, advised 
that he feels that any uses of this call might be prejudicial to the 
police murder trial against two accomplices of PEAK and, therefore, 
has advised that he wishes no use of this tape until after the murder 
trials of Peak and the two accomplices has been completed."

The FBI memo continued, "[N]o further efforts are being made at this 
time to secure additional tape recordings of the original telephone call.

The jury that would later convict Ed Poindexter and Mondo we Langa 
never knew of Hoover's secret order to withhold evidence and never 
got to hear the recording of the killer's voice.  Officials destroyed 
the recording after the trial.

If it wasn't the two Panther leaders on the recording, whose voice was it?

2)  The confessions and recantations of 15 year-old Duane Peak

Duane Peak, a 15 year-old, confessed to planting the bomb that killed 
Minard and also said he made the phone call as well.  Peak actually 
gave a half-dozen statements to police both denying his involvement 
and implicating others.  While being questioned in custody by 
assistant county prosecutor Arthur O'Leary, the youth was told the 
truth did not matter.

"As a practical matter, it doesn't make any difference what the truth 
is concerning you at all."

"You realize now that it doesn't make any difference whether you did 
or didn't.  That doesn't really make one bit of difference at all at 
this stage of the game."

Peak, under threat of the electric chair, finally told interrogators 
what they wanted to hear, he had been put up to the crime by Ed 
Poindexter and Mondo we Langa.  A preliminary hearing was scheduled.

However, Peak didn't follow the script and refused to name the two 
Panther leaders in court.  A recess was called for several 
hours.  When Peak returned to the stand he was wearing sunglasses and 
was noticeably trembling.  Defense attorney David Herzog asked Peak 
about his sudden change of demeanor.

ATTORNEY:  "What happened to make you shake and bring your nervous 
condition about now?"

PEAK:  "I don't know."

ATTORNEY:  "You had a conversation between the time you were placed 
on the witness stand this morning and the present time now, isn't 
that correct?"

PEAK:  "Yes."

ATTORNEY:  "And there were some things that the police officers told 
you about what would happen to you, like sitting in the electric 
chair, isn't that correct?"

PEAK:  "I didn't have a chance."

ATTORNEY:  "You didn't have a chance, did you?"

PEAK:  "No."

ATTORNEY:  You are doing what they want you to do, aren't you?"

PEAK:  "Yes."

After implicating Ed Poindexter and Mondo we Langa, in the solitude 
of his jail cell, the young killer would express remorse in a letter, 
known to the prosecution but withheld from the defense.

"The Lord knows I tried but something happened which forced me to 
realize I had no alternative but to say what I said.  No matter what 
anyone says from now on I refuse to call myself a man, or anything 
close to a man because I did what I did.  Even though there was no 
other way, because they already had enough evidence to convict those 
other two bloods."

"I not only turned against those two bloods, but I turned against 
myself and my own people.  I could have denied everything and all 
three of us would have gone up to the chair.  And then again if I 
denied everything one of those other bloods would have gave them a 
story and sent me and the other dude up."

Peak ended up with a deal and was sentenced as a juvenile serving 33 
months of detention before his release while the 'Omaha Two' remain in prison.


Permission granted to reprint

Author's Bio: Michael Richardson is a freelance writer based in 
Boston. Richardson writes about politics, law, nutrition, ethics, and 
music. Richardson is also a political consultant.

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