[Ppnews] John Graham convicted in death of Anna Mae Aquash
Political Prisoner News
ppnews at freedomarchives.org
Sat Dec 11 11:33:49 EST 2010
Guilty verdict in N.S. native activist's death
Last Updated: Friday, December 10, 2010 | 7:23 PM
A South Dakota jury has found John Graham guilty
of felony murder in the 1975 slaying of a native
woman originally from Nova Scotia.
Graham, 55, was acquitted of a second, more
serious charge of premeditated murder in the
slaying of Anna Mae Pictou-Aquash, a Mi'kmaq from
Indian Brook, N.S., and an activist with the American Indian Movement (AIM).
Felony murder carries a mandatory sentence of life in prison.
The two charges roughly parallel what are known
as second- and first-degree murder charges in Canada.
Graham looked straight ahead and didn't move as
the verdicts were read. His daughter, Naneek,
began to cry as the jury members stood one by one to affirm the verdicts.
"We waited 35 years," said Denise Maloney Pictou,
one of Pictou-Aquash's daughters, "It's been a long road for us."
Graham, originally from Yukon, was accused of
shooting Pictou-Aquash, 30, and leaving her to
die on the Pine Ridge reservation in South
Dakota. The killing occurred amid the violent
struggles between AIM and agents with the Federal
Bureau of Investigation of the 1970s.
Prosecutors in the 7th Circuit Court in Rapid
City, S.D., argued that Graham and two other AIM
members kidnapped and killed Pictou-Aquash
because they thought she was a government spy.
The charges against Graham were laid after Arlo
Looking Cloud, another AIM member who was
convicted in Pictou-Aquash's murder six years
ago, alleged Graham was the one who shot her.
The jury in the case deliberated for 12 hours
from Thursday to Friday before initially
delivering a verdict on the felony murder charge
but remaining deadlocked on the other charge.
They eventually returned a verdict on the premeditated murder charge as well.
'We need to be together'
A Southern Tutchone originally from the Champagne
and Asihihik First Nation in Yukon, Graham was
extradited from Vancouver to the U.S. in 2007 to
stand trial in Pictou-Aquash's death.
Graham's children, who live in Yukon, are in
Rapid City this week to provide support to their father.
Viola Papequash, Graham's former partner and the
mother of their children, said she is bringing
family members together in Yukon so they can be prepared for the verdict.
"We need to be together to just support one
another for whatever happens," Papequash told CBC
News on Thursday from her home in Whitehorse.
Both Pictou-Aquash and Graham were active in AIM,
which was established in the late 1960s to
protest the U.S. government's treatment of
American Indians and demand the government honour
its treaties with Indian tribes.
Pictou-Aquash's death came about six months after
two FBI agents were killed during a shootout with
AIM members at Pine Ridge, and two years after
she participated in AIM's 71-day occupation of
the South Dakota reservation town of Wounded Knee.
Papequash said the long legal saga leading up to
Graham's trial has had its toll on their family.
"For John and I, as a family, it started in '89
when the FBI first came up a long time, a long haul for all of us," she said.
With files from The Associated Press
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