[Ppnews] Ed Poindexter seeks review of Nebraska ruling over COINTELPRO influenced trial

Political Prisoner News ppnews at freedomarchives.org
Fri Jun 11 14:20:08 EDT 2010

Ed Poindexter seeks federal review of Nebraska 
Supreme Court over COINTELPRO influenced trial

June 11, 1:52 PM · Michael Richardson - COINTELPRO Examiner

Edward Poindexter, the former head of the Omaha, 
Nebraska chapter of the Black Panthers, has filed 
a Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus in the U.S. 
District Court of Nebraska. Poindexter’s petition 
seeks an order reversing his “illegal conviction 
and sentence” for the 1970 murder of an Omaha policeman.

Imprisoned forty years for the bombing death of 
patrolman Larry Minard, Poindexter and his 
co-defendant Mondo we Langa (formerly David Rice) 
were convicted following a controversial trial 
tainted by COINTELPRO tactics. Operation 
COINTELPRO, the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s 
illegal war on American political activists, was 
unknown to the public at the time of Minard’s 
death and was officially terminated shortly after Poindexter’s 1971 trial.

At the heart of Poindexter’s current appeal is a 
recording of the 911 call that lured Minard to 
his death in a vacant house. The recording of the 
killer was withheld from the defense and sent to 
FBI headquarters where director J. Edgar Hoover 
secretly ordered the head of the FBI crime lab to 
not prepare a report on the tape.

The Omaha field office of the FBI had been under 
pressure from Hoover for months to take 
counterintelligence action against the Panther 
leadership and both Ed Poindexter and Mondo we 
Langa were targets of the undercover agents.

In order to pin the bombing on the two Panther 
leaders it was necessary to get the evidence of 
the real killer, the 911 caller, out of the way. 
Hoover gave the order to the crime lab, with the 
apparent concurrence of acting police chief Glen 
Gates, before Minard’s body was laid to rest.

The sordid details of the COINTELPRO manipulation 
of the investigation and trial did not emerge 
until years later under Freedom of Information 
requests. Poindexter’s petition tells the sad 
story of his attempt to gain a new trial in the state court system.

“The Omaha Police Department has tape recorded 
the 911 call of August 17, 1970, but at the 1971 
trial, no evidence was presented concerning the 
911 tape. The trial jury was not able to listen 
to the voice of the 911 caller because the 
prosecution failed to disclose evidence of a 
taped recording of the call. The only significant 
evidence implicating Poindexter was given to them 
by then 16 year old Duane Peak, who claimed he 
had made the call, and who gave contradictory 
testimony at the preliminary hearing and trial.”

Omaha police destroyed the original tape 
following the trial but a dispatcher’s copy 
emerged years later. Finally, after decades in 
jail, Poindexter was able to hear the voice of 
Minard’s killer and immediately recognized the 
voice was not that of Peak. The tape was 
submitted to internationally renowned voice 
expert Tom Owen who has been an expert witness 180 times in 41 states.

“Owen compared the 911 call and Peak’s voice on 
the voice exemplar from a digital perspective 
transferred onto Owen;s computer. Owen utilized a 
12-step methodology for voice identification 
using the aural method, and completed a 
.Owen made several spectrographs for 
comparative purposes and concluded there was a 
difference in pitch between Duane Peak’s known 
voice and the voice on the 911 tape and an 
obvious difference in the sound of the voices.”

“Also testifying was attorney David Herzog, 
counsel for David Rice [Mondo we Langa] in the 
joint trial, who stated unequivocally that 
defense counsel were not aware of the existence 
of the 911 tape, much less police reports, which 
illustrated the tape had been played for critical 
State witnesses. Herzog further testified that if 
defense counsel has been aware of the 911 tape, 
the defense tactics at trial would have been very 
different. A critical police report kept from 
Attorney Herzog was an exhibit which illustrated 
that Duane Peak’s brother, Donnie Peak, was 
identified as possibly the 911 caller by Annie 
Norris, a key prosecution witness at the 1971 
trial. Herzog testified that if the report had 
been available to him, he also would have known 
the police had possession of a 911 recording of Duane’s voice.”

“Prosecutorial misconduct denied Poindexter due 
process of law guaranteed by the Fifth and 
Fourteenth Amendments of the United States Constitution.”

“At Poindexter’s trial, the prosecution’s key 
witness, Duane Peak, who claimed he made the 911 
call, was the only witness implicating Poindexter in the murder.”

“The prosecution withheld from Poindexter’s 
counsel vital information regarding the 911 call 
that lured the Omaha Police Department to the 
abandoned house and officer Minard to his death, 
in spite of counsel’s request and the court’s 
order, that all such information be disclosed.”

“The prosecution failed to inform the defense 
counsel that the 911 call had been recorded, or 
to make a copy available to defense counsel, so 
that they could listen to the tape and/or to 
conduct their own analysis of the tape.”

“The prosecution failed to inform defense counsel 
that it sent a copy of the 911 call tape to the 
FBI for voice identification, and that the FBI 
would only provide a verbal report on its 
analysis, depriving defense counsel of that information.”

“The prosecution failed to inform defense counsel 
that it advised the FBI, after Duane Peak claimed 
to have made the 911 call, that any use of the 
tape before the end of the trial could be 
“prejudicial” to the murder trial of Poindexter and his co-defendant.”

“The prosecution failed to disclose to defense 
counsel, the court or the jury that it had made 
an explicit or tacit agreement to prosecute Duane 
Peak with leniency and as a juvenile, in exchange 
for his testimony that he had made the 911 call 
and that Poindexter and his co-defendant were 
responsible for making the bomb that killed Officer Minard.”

Duane Peak, the confessed killer, was released 
from custody after approximately 33 months in 
juvenile detention and now lives in the state of Washington.

The unknown 911 caller has never been identified or charged for the murder.

Ed Poindexter and Mondo we Langa are imprisoned 
in the maximum-security Nebraska State 
Penitentiary where they are serving life 
sentences. Both men steadfastly maintain their innocence.

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