[Pnews] Fifty years ago an Omaha prosecutor told confessed bomber Duane Peak that truth did not matter in policeman’s murder

Prisoner News ppnews at freedomarchives.org
Sat Sep 5 16:36:15 EDT 2020

years ago an Omaha prosecutor told confessed bomber Duane Peak that truth
did not matter in policeman’s murder Michael Richardson - September 5, 2020
Sixteen year-old Duane Peak, Patrolman Larry Minard, and interrogation
transcript of Omaha prosecutor Arthur O’Leary. (credits: Omaha Police
Department/Douglas County Clerk of Court)

Deputy Douglas County Attorney Arthur O’Leary was the lead prosecutor in
the Larry Minard murder trial. Minard, an Omaha policeman, was killed in an
ambush bombing on August 17, 1970, at a vacant house on the Near-Northside.
Two Black Panther leaders, Edward Poindexter
and David Rice, were convicted in April 1971 for the crime following a
controversial trial.

On August 28, 1970, Omaha police arrested sixteen year-old Duane Peak for
the murder. Peak underwent a week-long interrogation of multiple sessions
before he finally implicated Poindexter and Rice. The interrogations began
at police headquarters by two black patrolmen known to Peak. The last
interrogation, a week later by white detectives, was at the Dodge County
Jail in Fremont, Nebraska where Peak was being held.

At mid-point in the questioning, prosecutor O’Leary conducted a formal
deposition of Peak, complete with court reporter. In all, Peak gave six
different versions of the crime. Every time Peak related the murder events
he altered the facts. O’Leary and the detectives pushed until they heard
what they wanted. Peak implicated :Poindexter, chairman of the local
National Committee to Combat Fascism.

“It was on a Monday before the bombing….I went down to headquarters and
Poindexter said he wanted to talk to me and he took me down the street and
told me what he planned on doing. He said he was going to make a bomb and
that he was going to plant it in a house and have somebody call the police
up there.”

“He didn’t say exactly what I was supposed to do. He told me on that day to
be at my cousin, Frank’s house at nine o’clock….I went over there and
Poindexter was there and said he was going to David Rice’s house.”

“We went to the house and Poindexter went down in the basement and brought
a suitcase up and there was a case of dynamite there and he took three
sticks out and put them in the suitcase and he had a battery. I didn’t
watch how he put it together but he said it was all set and he put paper
around it and he shut it and he planned on doing it that night but he
didn’t. I don’t know why.”

Peak did not know where Poindexter got the battery. Peak went on to
describe the suitcase as “gray, real dark gray.” Peak was uncertain where
the suitcase came from; first it was in the bedroom, then Peak changed the
story saying he thought Poindexter had the suitcase with him. “He put a
hole in the bottom of the suitcase and there was a blue insulated wire
extending from the hole, about four inches.”

Peak claimed he had another rendezvous with Poindexter. “The next day.…we
walked up Ohio to 30th and he spotted the house and he said, “That would be
a good house right there. He walked up and he walked down the alley and
looked at it.”

Peak stated he did not see Poindexter again until Friday evening at a
nightclub. Peak was a member of a singing group and sang a couple of songs
as an opening act. “Friday night we had a little group meeting and we were
singing down at the Legion club. I saw Poindexter down there and Poindexter
told me that he wanted to have it done by Sunday and I told him I didn’t
want to be involved.”

Poindexter would not take no for an answer according to Peak. “Well, you
have to follow orders, and if you don’t do it, something is going to happen
to you….You take the suitcase up to the house.”

Duane got his older sister Delia Peak to give him a ride. “Delia drove me
up there and she dropped me off in the alley….I took the suitcase out of
the trunk and walked up the alley and Delia left and I walked in the
house—there is a porch there and I walked in the house and the door was
already open and I put it in the living room in the middle of the floor.”

Peak denied triggering the bomb. O’Leary pressed for details but Peak
wanted out. “I want to hurry up and get out of this, I want out of this
whole thing.”

O’Leary told Peak to repeat the story and tried to budge Peak from his
claim he left the bomb not triggered in the vacant house. “I want to go
over it once again. As a practical matter, it doesn’t make any difference
what the truth is concerning you at all.”

O’Leary continued his attempt to extract information about the bomb. “It
doesn’t hurt you one bit to tell me the rest, if there is any more….What I
am getting at is, when you left the bomb or the dynamite there, all there
was was the wire trailing out of it and you set it upright, is that

Again, O’Leary asked Peak about arming the bomb. “You didn’t arm it or
attach it to the floor or anything like that?”

‘You realize now that it doesn’t make any difference whether you did or
didn’t. That doesn’t really make one bit of difference at all at this stage
of the game but I want to make sure concerning somebody else that might
have been involved. Because you see what it amounts to, Duane, is that
eventually you are going to have to testify about everything you said here
and it isn’t going to make one bit of difference whether or not you leave
out one fact of not, as far as you are concerned.”

Duane Peak ended up listening to O’Leary and earned a get-out-of-jail-free
card by implicating the two NCCF leaders. Peak testified at the trial
Poindexter and Rice built the bomb and put Peak up to delivering it to the
vacant house where Minard died. Rice, who changed his name to Wopashitwe
Mondo Eyen we Langa, died March 2016 at the Nebraska State Penitentiary
serving a life without parole sentence. Poindexter, remains imprisoned at
the maximum-security prison, where he continues to proclaim his innocence
fifty years after the crime.

Poindexter has a pending commutation request before the Board of Pardons
and a community march supporting Poindexter’s freedom is planned in Omaha
for September 19th. A prayer vigil was recently held by ten ministers
praying for the families of both Poindexter and Minard and other families
of racial violence victims.

*This article is excerpted from *FRAMED: J. Edgar Hoover, COINTELPRO & the
Omaha Two story
,* in print edition at *Amazon
and available in *ebook
Portions of the book may be read free online at *NorthOmahaHistory.com
*The book is also available to patrons of the *Omaha Public Library
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