[Ppnews] Part 4 - Why the 'Omaha Two' deserve a new trial

Political Prisoner News ppnews at freedomarchives.org
Thu Mar 5 11:13:15 EST 2009

Original Content at 

March 5, 2009

Framed by the FBI: A dozen reasons the 'Omaha Two' deserve a new trial (4 of 6)

By Michael Richardson


Ed Poindexter

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.

New Trial Reason Seven:  Conflicting police 
testimony about dynamite--Murdock Platner

Captain Murdock Platner of the Omaha Police 
Department made two trips to Capitol Hill to 
testify under oath about the 'Omaha Two' 
case.  Although the hearings were days apart in 
October 1970, Murdock gave conflicting testimony 
about dynamite that police believed was used in the August 17th bombing.

Murdock not only contradicted Duane Peak's 
preliminary hearing testimony about the source of 
the dynamite used to construct the bomb that 
killed Larry Minard, but Platner also gave 
conflicting accounts of the seizure of dynamite 
three weeks before the bombing leaving nine 
sticks of the explosives unaccounted for.

In two sessions of Congressional testimony a week 
apart, unreported by the news media and kept from 
the murder trial jury, Platner gave two differing 
amounts of dynamite seized by police under the 
command of detective Jack Swanson.  The 
difference is significant because a week after 
Minard's death, Swanson allegedly found dynamite 
in the basement of Mondo we Langa's residence.

On October 6, 1970, Platner testified that "about 
60" sticks of dynamite were recovered in July 
with the arrests of Luther Payne, Lamont Mitchell and Conrad Gray.

"We have learned through confidential informants 
that the dynamite was stolen from a place called 
Quick Supply Co. in Des Moines and transferred 
across the State line into the Omaha area
were probably ten cases of this dynamite that was 
stolen from Des Moines and brought into the Omaha 
area. We were in contact with a white man who we 
knew was buying stolen property for these people, 
and we asked him to ask them about dynamite, and 
we thought possibly we could buy it.  We 
eventually did buy about 60 sticks of dynamite from them."

By October 14th the "about 60" sticks of dynamite 
shrunk to 51 leaving "about" nine sticks of 
dynamite unaccounted for.  Platner appeared 
before a different Congressional committee and 
offered a different amount of explosives.

"We received information from a party that had 
been approached to buy dynamite.  We had him buy 
it and he bought 10 sticks.  It was 2 ½ by 
16-inch sticks.  He came back later and said he 
could buy more of this dynamite.  So we set him 
up to buy and then we were going to move in 
before it was delivered.  We did move in and 
arrest three young men in a car.  In their 
possession they had 41 sticks of this same type of dynamite."

After Minard's death when Swanson searched Mondo 
we Langa's house, police officer Marvin McClarty 
suspicioned Swanson was planting evidence the way 
the search was conducted.  Conflicting accounts 
by detectives over who found the dynamite, and 
where in the basement it was found, have dogged 
the case from the beginning.  No crime scene 
photographs, including photos of the basement, 
contain dynamite.  The first evidence photos in 
which the dynamite appears are of the trunk of a police squad car.

Was the dynamite in the squad car the nine 
missing sticks described in Platner's testimony?

New Trial Reason Eight:  Conflicting police 
testimony about search warrant--James Perry

Lieutenant James Perry of the Omaha Police 
Department supervised searches of Black Panther 
headquarters and residences during the search for 
Larry Minard's killers.  Perry's lack of 
credibility was not known to jurors at the murder 
trial but did not escape U.S. District Court 
Judge Warren Urbom who ordered a new trial for 
Mondo we Langa over the search of his 
residence.  A legal maneuver by the United States 
Supreme Court shifting appellate responsibility 
to state courts prevented the new trial from 
happening but Urbom's assessment of Perry's credibility stands.

"Lt. Perry's testimony that Delia Peak told him 
that Duane Peak, Edward Poindexter and David Rice 
[Mondo we Langa] were constant companions is in 
no way corroborated by the remainder of the 
record before me.  The police report of her 
interview reveals nothing about Duane Peak's 
being a constant companion of David Rice's, and 
the rights advisory form she signed indicates 
that only Sgt. R. Alsager and Richard Curd were 
present for her interview.  Moreover, her 
interview did not begin until the very hour 
police first approached David Rice's house and 
was not completed until after the decision had 
been made to enter his house.  The police report 
of her interview also reveals she had seen Duane 
Peak at about 5:00 p.m. the night before.  Thus, 
it simply is not so that Duane Peak's family had 
not seen him in the two days before they had 
entered the petitioner's house and is persuasive 
that Delia Peak's family did not make a contrary 
statement.  Finally, there is no indication in 
the police reports of interviews with Duane 
Peak's family prior to the entry of Rice's house 
that they were concerned that he might have been 
eliminated.  On the basis of the entire record 
before this court and having heard and seen Lt. 
Perry testify, it is impossible for me to credit 
his testimony in the respects mentioned."

Perry also claimed that Donald Peak had 
implicated Mondo we Langa, an allegation that 
Judge Urbom flatly rejected.  "Had Donald Peak, 
Jr. so implicated David Rice, surely a similar 
arrest warrant for him would have been issued at 
that time.  Given these facts I simply cannot 
credit this testimony of Lt. Perry."

Perry talked with a British film crew in the 
1980's and discussed the case.  "He [Mondo we 
Langa] was very free about what he thought the 
answers to these problems were and they generally 
included killing police officers.  Ed Poindexter, 
not as vocal, was always present, always 
.Well there wasn't a policeman on the job 
who didn't know who done that.  It was just a 
matter of being able to prove it.  And that is what we done."


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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