[Ppnews] Omaha Two story: (Part 17) - Confessed Omaha bomber changed story during preliminary hearing

Political Prisoner News ppnews at freedomarchives.org
Wed Mar 30 15:49:45 EDT 2011


Confessed Omaha bomber changed story during preliminary hearing

    * By 
Richardson, COINTELPRO Examiner
    * March 30th, 2011 3:14 pm ET
Omaha Two story: Sept. 28, 1970

Duane Peak, the 15 year-old confessed bomber in 
the ambush killing of Omaha police officer 
Minard, Sr. was transported from the Fremont, 
Nebraska jail where he had been held since August 31, 1970.

Peak had been moved to Fremont and given special 
privileges during the weeks of his interrogation 
following his arrest for the 
17th bombing.  The young man was hard to pin down 
giving multiple versions of his admission.

The stories Peak told ranged from solo guilt to 
various accomplices, including after prodding, 
the alleged commands of 
Poindexter and 
we Langa, then David Rice.  The official version 
of the case became that Peak acted at the 
direction of the two Black Panther leaders.

The day after Peak was moved to Fremont, on 
September 1, 1970, the three men arrested with 
stolen dynamite on 
28, 1970, Luther Payne, Lamont Mitchell, and 
Conrad Gray, had their preliminary 
hearing.  Omaha detective Jack Swanson, head of 
the OPD Intelligence Unit, testified about the facts of the men’s arrests.

At the Federal Building, U.S. Attorney Richard 
Dier announced the resignation of his assistant 
J. William Gallup over a cancelled 
Tobacco & Firearms Division raid.  Gallup was 
working with the ATF agents on a tip from an 
adolescent and wanted to search the headquarters 
of the National Committee to Combat Fascism in 
July.  The Federal Bureau of Investigation 
learned of the raid and had it cancelled, 
presumably in a turf war between the two agencies.

Gallup was angered by the meddling of the FBI in 
his raid and after the bombing decided to resign 
his federal position.  Gallup told the Omaha 
World-Herald, “I got sick of Washington trying to 
run our legal business in Omaha.”

On September 28, 1970, a preliminary hearing, 
required by law to determine if there was 
sufficient grounds to continue to hold the two 
black leaders on murder charges, was held at the Douglas County Courthouse.

Suddenly, Larry Minard’s confessed killer was 
star witness.  Peak would ultimately get a deal 
and walk free after 33 months in juvenile detention for his testimony.

The story of the preliminary hearing is told by 
Lincoln attorney Robert Bartle, now president of 
the Nebraska Bar Association.  Bartle’s version 
of events is contained in an appeal brief  for Ed 
Poindexter whom Bartle represents and summarizes Peak’s conflicting testimony.

The brief states: “When Duane Peak testified in 
the morning at the Preliminary Hearing on 
September 28, 1970, he did not implicate David 
Rice or Ed Poindexter.  In fact, he denied having 
seen Poindexter the day the bomb was supposedly constructed.”

“This dramatic turn-around in his testimony 
speaks loudly of the pressure applied to Peak 
during the recess between his morning and his 
afternoon testimony.  In the afternoon, he told a 
very different story.  Duane acknowledge that he 
was “shaking and nervous” in the afternoon and 
that he hadn’t been “shaking and nervous” in the morning,” stated the brief.

What happened next is revealing.  Mondo’s 
attorney, David Herzog, questioned Peak about his 
demeanor on the stand and had him remove 
sunglasses he was wearing on his return trip to 
the courtroom.  A gasp went through the crowd in 
the courtroom as Peak removed his glasses to 
reveal red, puffy eyes--he had obviously been crying.

The court record speaks:

Herzog: “What happened to make you shake and 
bring your nervous condition about now?”

Peak:  “I don’t know.”

Herzog: “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.”

Herzog:  “And there were the same things that the 
police officers told you about that would happen 
to you, like sitting in the electric chair, isn’t that correct?”

Peak:  “I didn’t have a chance.”

Herzog:  “You didn’t have a chance, did you?”

Peak:  “No.”

Herzog:  You are doing what they want you to do, aren’t you?

Peak:  “Yes.”

Former State Senator Ernie Chambers was in the 
courtroom when Peak testified.  Chambers 
describes the scene:  “When he came back in the 
afternoon, his face was swollen around his eyes, 
he had glass on
When Duane took his glasses off 
his eyes were red, you could see he had been 
crying, and there was an audible gasp in the courtroom.”

Chambers continues: “His answers were scarcely 
audible.  A young man who knew nothing about 
anything in the morning and suddenly gave the 
answers that the police, the prosecutors needed to implicate David and Ed.”

The appeal brief:  “All indications are that the 
prosecutors made a deal with Duane Peak, that in 
consideration for his testimony against Rice and 
Poindexter, they would treat him with leniency, 
and as a juvenile
.The prosecutors never 
disclosed to the defense that such an arrangement had been made.”

Bartle concludes, “Notwithstanding the clear law 
requiring the disclosure, the prosecutors in this 
case were silent about the deal that was made with Duane Peak.”

To view all of the Omaha Two story articles click 

Permission granted to reprint

Michael Richardson

Freedom Archives
522 Valencia Street
San Francisco, CA 94110

415 863-9977

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