[Pnews] Author asks Don Kleine, Gov. Ricketts to reopen probe of 1970 David Rice and Ed Poindexter Case

Prisoner News ppnews at freedomarchives.org
Mon Jul 15 14:42:42 EDT 2019


  Author asks Don Kleine, Gov. Ricketts to reopen probe of 1970 bombing
  that killed Omaha officer

Paul Hammel  July 7, 2019

LINCOLN — The author of a recently released book on the booby-trap bomb 
murder of an Omaha police officer in 1970 says the real killer or 
killers have escaped justice.

Michael Richardson, who spent more than a decade digging through FBI and 
police records for his book, recently asked Douglas County Attorney Don 
Kleine and Gov. Pete Ricketts to reopen an investigation into the 
slaying of Police Officer Larry Minard.

Richardson, an Omaha native who covered part of the 1971 trial that 
convicted David Rice and Ed Poindexter of the murder, said he’s 
convinced by his review of the case and records not previously released 
that the pair was framed because they were black militants at a time 
when racial tensions were ripping apart the nation, as well as Omaha.

Richardson said: “They were guilty of rhetoric, they were guilty of 
being Black Panthers, they were guilty of hating the police. But they 
were not guilty of Larry Minard’s murder.”

Rice and Poindexter were convicted and sentenced to serve life in prison 
for what was one of the most sensational murders in Omaha history. Rice, 
who later adopted the African name Mondo we Langa, died in prison in 
Poindexter, now 74, remains behind bars at the Nebraska State Penitentiary.

Richardson, who delivered letters to Kleine and Ricketts in May, isn’t 
the first person to call for a review of the case. National figures like 
black activist Angela Davis and former U.S. Attorney General Ramsey 
Clark, as well as Amnesty International, have said the two men amount to 
political prisoners who should go free.

But others, including the family of Officer Minard, have long maintained 
that the two were justly convicted.

Richardson said his plea for reopening the case is critical now because 
justice could still be delivered to Poindexter, who required heart 
surgery two years ago.

“This case is in the past, but it is in the present for Ed Poindexter. 
He’s still locked up,” he said, “and you never get used to it.”

Kleine, when reached for comment, said that he is always willing to take 
a second look at a case when new evidence arises, but that the 
conviction of Rice and Poindexter has been upheld in the face of 
“intense scrutiny” over the years by the Nebraska Supreme Court, federal 
courts and other attorneys.

“There’s a lot of people who have looked at this (case),” Kleine said. 
“But I’m not aware of anything that leads me to believe these people are 
completely innocent.”

Members of Minard’s family have said that it’s “totally and completely 
to believe that the two men were framed. In 1994, then-Omaha Police 
Chief James Skinner testified against Poindexter being considered for 
parole, saying the evidence showed they participated in a conspiracy to 
kill police officers, and that warrants life in prison.

Ricketts, according to Richardson, sent a one-sentence letter 
acknowledging receipt of his recent book, but did not respond to the 
call to reopen an investigation. The Governor’s Office did not respond 
to a request for comment.

Richardson, who is now based in Belize, said that there were many things 
unsettling about the investigation and conviction of the “Omaha Two” 
that should have raised red flags, “but due to the politics of the day, 
it didn’t.”

Among the assertions made by Richardson in his book, “Framed: J. Edgar 
Hoover, COINTELPRO & the Omaha Two Story,” are:

  * The phone call that lured Minard and other police to the bomb that
    was planted in a vacant north Omaha home could not have been made by
    Duane Peak, the prosecution’s star witness, who testified at the
    trial that he made the call.
  * In 2007, a voice-recognition expert testified that it was “highly
    probable” that the low-pitched voice on a recording of the call was
    not Peak, who was 15 at the time and had a high-pitched voice. But
    the Nebraska Supreme Court rejected a new trial for Poindexter in
    2009, ruling that he had failed to prove that playing the tape at
    the trial would have changed its outcome.
  * The FBI canceled a lab report on the phone call, a highly unusual
    move in such a case, according to the author. At the time, the FBI
    was conducting a covert, counterintelligence effort called
    COINTELPRO to discredit and disrupt Rice and Poindexter, as well as
    leaders of other Black Panther affiliates. The book suggests that
    not testing the tape helped manipulate the result of the trial.
  * Dynamite residue found in Rice’s pockets was planted. It was
    implausible, one expert testified, that it would be found in
    anyone’s pockets. And Richardson said that Rice’s hands tested clean
    for dynamite just after The World-Herald published a photo of him
    turning himself in with his hands in his pockets. That, the author
    said, points to the planting of dynamite particles.
  * Rice had an alibi witness who refuted Peak’s story about when Peak
    had picked up the suitcase from Rice. But Richardson said that the
    defense attorneys didn’t pick up on the conflicting testimony.

Peak, who initially said that Rice and Poindexter had no connection to 
the bombing but later testified that they directed him to plant the 
bomb, was granted immunity and moved to the Pacific Northwest in 
exchange for his testimony. Richardson said it was suspicious that the 
person identified as supplying the dynamite and suitcase for the bomb 
that killed Minard was not prosecuted, along with Peak and one other 
person linked to the dynamite.

Lincoln attorney Bob Bartle, who represented Poindexter in his most 
recent appeals a decade ago, said he remains suspicious of the “dirty 
tricks” played by federal authorities during the investigation and 
trial, but says the case lacks the irrefutable evidence, such as DNA 
evidence, that not only exonerates Rice and Poindexter but fingers who 
actually killed Minard.

“The traditional avenues of appeal for Ed Poindexter are closed, absent 
an extraordinary measure taken by a prosecutor or the (State) Board of 
Pardons,” Bartle said. “I would welcome (a reopening of the case), but 
would be pleasantly surprised if it came.”

Richardson said that his “guilty knowledge” of the case prompted him to 
dig deeper and write the book, which he maintains is the first time all 
threads of the case have been presented in one package.

“It’s too late to test for dynamite, but it’s not too late to see who 
(really) made that call,” he said.

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