[Ppnews] Justice Hangs A Vacancy Sign: Guilty Verdict in Aquash Murder Trial

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Mon Dec 13 10:17:20 EST 2010


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Monday, December 13 2010 @ 03:08 PM UTC


Justice Hangs A Vacancy Sign: Guilty Verdict in Aquash Murder Trial

Sunday, December 12 2010 @ 10:04 PM UTC

Contributed by: 
<http://news.infoshop.org/users.php?mode=profile&uid=8027>antoinettenora
http://news.infoshop.org/article.php?story=20101212220426140

Dec. 12, 2010. An old song found on youtube. Over 
and over. Playing on the Macbook while I wait for 
a jury in South Dakota to return to the courtroom 
with a verdict. On the murder of Anne Mae Pictou 
Aquash (1945-1975/6). John Trudell, former 
“chairperson” of the American Indian Movement 
(AIM), was Annie Mae’s friend: he and her lover 
Dennis Banks, were all an unrelenting, dynamic 
force to reckon with back then. Their legacy 
defies time. The lyrics of “out of the blues” 
infinity, haunting. The words suit events in 
Indian Country today. As much as they did 30 
years ago. When they were written. “A man calls to justice, justice lies”.


Justice Hangs A Vacancy Sign: : Guilty Verdict in Aquash Murder Trial

by antoinette nora claypoole

"....in the dream of the living predator arrives. 
out of the blues...a man calls to justice, 
justice lies.” --John Trudell, from “Out of the Blues”

Dec. 12, 2010. An old song found on youtube. Over 
and over. Playing on the Macbook while I wait for 
a jury in South Dakota to return to the courtroom 
with a verdict. On the murder of Anne Mae Pictou 
Aquash (1945-1975/6). John Trudell, former 
“chairperson” of the American Indian Movement 
(AIM), was Annie Mae’s friend: he and her lover 
Dennis Banks, were all an unrelenting, dynamic 
force to reckon with back then. Their legacy 
defies time. The lyrics of “out of the blues” 
infinity, haunting. The words suit events in 
Indian Country today. As much as they did 30 
years ago. When they were written. “A man calls to justice, justice lies”.

On Dec. 10, 2010, after nearly a decade of 
fighting a murder indictment scripted by the FBI, 
John Graham, a Canadian First Nations Man and 
young footsoldier for the (AIM) , was found 
guilty of murdering his friend Anna Mae Pictou 
Aquash. He faces mandatory life in prison. The 
State of South Dakota claimed Graham killed her 
35 years ago, to date, on/around Dec. 12, 1975. 
And the jury agreed. But there was no real 
evidence, just a myriad of change like the 
weather stories. And the atmosphere in Indian 
Country is deeply divided. By the verdict, the 
murder and the claims to truth everyone seems to 
own. Someone said to me just yesterday. 
Discompassionately. “Well it’s a cold case. What 
do you expect.” I replied. Defiantly. “There is 
nothing but heat in this case. Always has been.”

The efforts by the FBI to blame AIM via John 
Graham have been going on for over 20 years. 
Maybe longer. Nothing cold about that. Nearly 
since the time in Feb. 1976 when Annie Mae’s body 
was found, buried as “Jane Doe”. The first 
autopsy NOT disclosing cause of death as bullet 
to the head, rather “exposure” and closing the 
case. Only after family/friends insisted on 
exhuming her body was it found to be Annie Mae, 
and that she was shot, brutally. At that point. 
The FBI and Federal/State Prosecutors moved in on 
AIM, claiming they killed their own. Moving 
around the country like an old Buffalo Bill side 
show, from one old AIM member to another, the 
Feds have flaunted a “drawer of seal indictments 
ready to hand out” (Robert Mandell, Feb. 2004) to 
any lookey loo who challenges their rant. For 
years. The brutal truth is Annie Mae had 
discovered who had infiltrated AIM. And she was 
killed because of it. From the onset the Feds 
“had” to protect their own. Just like they did 
and still do. In the high profile Leonard Peltier case.

Like Peltier, Graham was extradited from Canada 
on faulty “facts”. And though not as 
International in stature as Peltier, John Graham 
has a huge support network up North, in Canada. 
His close friend and long time supporter, Maureen 
Bourke, was understandably angry at the jury’s 
verdict. She pours out her heart: “I had a 
glimmer yesterday when the jury asked for 
clarification. Very briefly, did I believe, that 
John could come home.” Her belief in Justice, magical, painful, quashed.

The jury had deliberated 12 hours on the case, 
much longer than happened in the trial of another 
man, Arlo Looking Cloud, found guilty of Annie 
Mae’s murder back in 2004. But the Graham Defense 
rested suddenly without calling one witness­a 
surprise to many and a sign to some that the 
Jury, in the end, had no chance to counter the 
hours of stories they heard against Graham. From 
one to another, like a cast of folks auditioning 
for an old Redford flick, Graham was depicted as 
kidnapping and killing his friend. No physical 
evidence was provided in the trial. Only vague, 
variant stories told by “witnesses” who for the 
most part saw nothing. Marshall, who earlier this 
year was acquitted for his role in the Aquash 
murder. Did not want to take the stand. But was 
offered immunity. And thus had to. He said “no I 
never gave them a gun”. And then said “yes. They 
came to my house”. The stories are threads of a 
ragged map. With destination marked in a red X. 
Provided by the Prosecutors. The script 
predictable. Then. There are “witnesses” who may 
have taken the road trip just to claim their 15 
minutes of “fame”. That includes a woman named 
Candy Hamilton who chimed in again, just like she 
did at the Looking Cloud dog and pony show. That 
she was “Annie Mae’s good friend” and Graham 
intended to kill her. And. Hamilton conveniently 
never explained why she didn’t save Annie Mae’s 
life. If she knew what was going to happen “ at 
the hands of John Graham”. Hamilton’s testimony, 
like others, never mentions the stark, brutal 
fact: if they knew Annie Mae was going to be 
killed by Graham, why didn’t someone stop him? 
Why wasn’t Annie Mae protected? But that is 
assuming Graham was guilty. His innocence would explain a lot.

Graham claims he did not kill Annie Mae. Quite 
clearly Graham admitted via a 2004 interview 
which found me in FBI stew. He admitted that he 
DID pick up Annie Mae in Denver, just as the 
Prosecution claims. BUT Graham says he went to 
“Troy Lyn’s” house to get Annie Mae because she 
asked him for protection. She wanted to get out 
of a place she believed was swarming with Fed 
informants. Graham says he took her to a safe 
house in Pine Ridge, South Dakota. A house of her 
choosing. And never saw her again. Prosecutor 
Oswald said in the Graham trial, the alibi is 
“just plain stupid”. But apparently he himself 
never had to find a place to run, a place to hide.

Graham’s innocence would explain a lot about the 
shreds of shrapnel which live inside those of us. 
Who have been inside this quest for resolve. For so long.

Graham’s version of what happened in Dec. 1975 
runs deep inside of me. It becomes a haunting. 
Perpetual freaky. Apparitions based on an 
interview I can’t forget. I did. With an Aquash 
family member, back in the early 90’s. I found a 
relative of Nogeeshik Aquash, Annie’s Mae’s 
husband. This was long before Graham, public 
indictments, Indian newspaper timelines and Fed 
trials had emerged. The “ Aquash Man” I’ll call 
him, was one of the few who would talk with me about Annie Mae back then.

I asked my simple, standard interview questions: 
“can you tell me a good Annie Mae Story? 
Something about her you remember. And when was 
the last time you saw her” Aquash man was happy 
to oblige. “Last time I saw my auntie was 
“Christmas, 1975. It was great to see her...she 
was always good to be around.” When the timeline 
and indictments came down. I was haunted by the 
remembering of this Christmas Story. He claimed 
to have been with Annie Mae two weeks AFTER Graham is said to have shot her.

Graham’s claim to innocence also explains something else.

The FBI reports from Jan. 1976 which explain 
seeing Annie Mae in Oklahoma. They even describe 
what she was wearing. Those documents were 
explained to me by Robert Robideau, before he 
passed: “ It was an FBI error antoinette. The 
Feds got the reports mixed up with ‘another Annie 
Mae’ who was running around Indian Country then”.

With the verdict of Guilty some are still asking: 
Was Graham the killer??? And I am still asking. 
What about people who saw her alive after the 
supposed shooting? All we have. Is Looking Cloud. 
So. Did he really stand by and watch, as he 
testified in his changes like the weather story 
of it all? The story that in the end, convicted his friend John Graham.

Barry Bachrach, Looking Cloud’s lawyer, and 
former lawyer for Leonard Peltier says “ Yes. 
Justice was served.” But he agrees with me that 
are still looming acts to follow this one. 
Bachrach explains: “Mr. Graham knows what he did 
and he knows the truth. Others know what they 
did. In one sense, you are correct that justice 
has not been fully served because there were so many people involved...”.

Who are these people? Are they the AIM informants 
who Annie Mae had discovered while she was in 
jail in the Northwest, right before she “went missing”???

This guilty verdict creates more quakes in Indian 
Country as people know how much power Big Brother 
has. To control “reality”. Indians have always 
known what the “Great White Father” does. Monica 
Charles old AIM activist who knew Annie Mae, 
continues, like so much of Indian Country, to try 
to make sense of the events surrounding her 
death. Charles, in her statement regarding the 
Arlo Looking Cloud testimony that sealed Graham’s 
fate says it straight: “ Did his lawyer ever ask 
Arlo about the torture he suffered at the hands 
of the Amerikan Just Us system? I still believe 
in Arlo's innocence as I believe in John's 
innocence. Arlo is in my prayers every day. I saw 
the FBI in their paramilitary uniforms packing 
rifles, bullying, bullying, bullying. They 
dragged People out of their cars and interrogated 
them without a lawyer present.”

This. Then. From my book about Annie Mae. After 
20 years of covering this story. It still plays: 
“I try to explain. Blame game’s not my thing. The 
mystery of Annie Mae’s death, who pulled the 
trigger matters as much as who set the execution 
in motion. Addicted to power, people want eyes 
for eyes, like that’s some kind of anecdote to 
fear. But like freaked out kids once stuck on a 
short circuit tilt-a-whirl you are frantic to 
forget and I say you got no choice. Remembering 
helps you decide. Which ride you’ll go on next...”

The old Trudell song is still playing. “In the 
dream of the living, predator arrives, out of the 
blues”. And Graham supporter Maureen Bourke 
insists: “I am so angry, we are angry, and we are 
not going away. There will be an appeal”. Like 
the old music, the old legends and Wild West 
sideshows, none of this is going away. Anytime 
soon. Annie Mae’s family may have imagined 
resolve with this conviction. Yet. It seems an 
unlikely promise. As Graham has family too. And 
the people who set this brutal mess in motion. Are still walking free.




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