[Pnews] Fifty years ago the State’s chief witness committed perjury against Black Panther leaders Edward Poindexter and David Rice

Prisoner News ppnews at freedomarchives.org
Tue Sep 29 14:33:21 EDT 2020

years ago the State’s chief witness committed perjury against Black Panther
leaders Edward Poindexter and David Rice at a preliminary hearing into
policeman’s murder Michael Richardson - September 29, 2020
Edward Poindexter and David Rice (later Wopashitwe Mondo Eyen we Langa)
were leaders of Omaha Black Panther affiliate chapter (credits: Omaha
Police Department)

Fifty years ago, on September 28, 1970, Duane Peak
the teen-age star witness against Black Panther leaders Edward Poindexter
and David Rice
(later Wopashitwe Mondo Eyen we Langa
committed perjury. Peak told two contradictory stories under oath to an
Omaha judge about the involvement of the two men in the bombing murder of
Patrolman Larry Minard. County Attorney Donald Knowles and Arthur O’Leary
represented the prosecution, Public Defender A.Q. Wolf and Thomas Kenney
represented Poindexter, with David Herzog representing Rice.

Duane Peak was called to testify. Herzog immediately objected to any
testimony by Peak because he was a co-defendant, unreliable, and a minor.
The judge overruled the objection stating he did not know anything about
Peak. “I have no charge against this young man so I don’t know anything
about him.”

O’Leary asked Peak about seeing Ed Poindexter a week before the murder.
Peak couldn’t remember. “I don’t think I remember seeing him.”

Peak also couldn’t remember seeing Poindexter at the American Legion on the
Friday before the bombing. Peak couldn’t remember giving a deposition to
O’Leary a month earlier where he purportedly did remember. Nor did Peak
remember giving O’Leary a statement during an interrogation a week earlier.
Peak also claimed to not remember O’Leary’s trip to the jail in Fremont.

Knowles had enough and stopped the questioning. “I note, Your Honor, from
looking around the Courtroom, that this witness’ lawyer is not here. I
would like your permission for a continuance to the time that we can get
his lawyer here. I think he should be here with him.”

When the preliminary hearing resumed Donald Knowles made a statement,
apparently because Peak was still not ready to cooperate with the
prosecution. “I understand that the Court’s ruling was that we were allowed
to withdraw the witness that was on the stand this morning due to the fact
that he had taken us by surprise and we are allowed to proceed now with
other witnesses.”

Detective Jack Swanson testified his search of Mondo’s home revealed
fourteen sticks of dynamite.

“I was given information by a party who had given reliable information in
the past that David Rice had explosives in his house and the necessary
elements to make a bomb.”

Swanson said that no one was found at or near Mondo’s house the night of
the search, not mentioning the detention of Mondo’s brother Michael and a
friend, or the shots fired at an unknown third person.

Swanson testified he found dynamite in the basement. “In the basement
against the north wall in what you would call a kind of a cut-out in the
basement down there. It was a cut-away and you had to look back in there.”

“The sticks were laid in the box and it was a dynamite box and they were
just in there like they would have been shipped.”

Swanson said one suitcase was found at the residence but it was not seized
as evidence.

In the afternoon Duane Peak returned to the witness stand, wearing sun
glasses. The *Omaha World-Herald *reported that Peak’s hands trembled and
his answers were whispers.

Peak admitted conferring with three people during the morning recess; his
lawyer, his brother Donald, and his grandfather, Foster Goodlett.
Objections were made against any further testimony by Peak because of the
visits. The judge allowed Peak to testify. “The young man is represented by
competent counsel and I don’t know what he advised him but he has been
represented and he has also conferred with his grandfather, who is a
minister and whom I have known for a long time and I don’t know what advice
he gave him but your motion is overruled and we will see what the Defendant
testifies to.”

In the morning session, the judge said Peak was a young man facing no known
charges. Peak was now a “Defendant” in the case. Peak’s testimony also
changed during the recess. Now Peak remembered a conversation outside NCCF
headquarters with Ed Poindexter about a bomb. “He called me outside and
said he wanted to show me how to make a bomb.”

Peak said Poindexter told him to meet that evening at Frank Peak’s house.
“He met me there with Rollie House.”

Duane claimed that from Frank’s home he went with House and Poindexter to
Rice’s residence where Poindexter got out of the vehicle. “We went up to
Rollie House’s house. Rollie brought a suitcase out from the house.”

Peak said House returned him to Rice’s home where Peak claimed that
Poindexter opened the suitcase to reveal dynamite. “Poindexter took the
dynamite out of the suitcase and put it in a box.”

Peak’s story about construction of the bomb changed from his earlier
versions. Peak said he and Rice assisted Poindexter. Peak also said that
Poindexter wanted to plant the bomb that night but couldn’t get a ride.
According to Peak, at an encounter with Poindexter about 11:00 p.m. on
Friday night at the American Legion Club, Peak was instructed to deliver
the bomb to Ohio Street.

Peak said he retrieved the suitcase and took it to Olivia Norris’ house
where he told his brother Donald to stay away from the suitcase. From there
Peak took the suitcase to sister Delia’s apartment with sister Theresa
giving him a ride. Peak claimed he examined the suitcase in the bathroom at
Delia’s before she gave him a ride to Ohio Street.

Under cross-examination by Thomas Kenney, Peak admitted telling the police
a different story when first questioned. Peak said he was threatened with
the electric chair during his first interrogation.

David Herzog asked Peak about his arrest. Peak said he was taken to the
police station where he met with police officers and one other person.
“There was one from the FBI.”

“The FBI arrested me.”

Peak said police twice talked to him about being executed in the electric
chair. “They said I was sitting in the electric chair so I had better tell
the truth.”

“I didn’t have a chance.”

Peak admitted he had been coached about his confession by Arthur O’Leary in
preparation for the hearing. Peak said his attorney was not present for the
session with O’Leary. Herzog asked Peak to remove his sunglasses. Ernie
Chambers was there and described the scene in an interview. “When he came
back in the afternoon, his face was swollen around his eyes, he had glasses
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.”

“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.”

Kenney asked for a dismissal of the charges. “Your Honor, the case that the
State has presented thus far was the testimony of a 16-year-old boy who
admittedly was subjected to extensive psychological coercion on the part of
the Omaha Police Department and therefore is unreliable.”

Herzog also sought a dismissal. “The witness has changed sides; has altered
his story; has forgotten, claims to have forgotten some facts, and then
comes back this afternoon and offers that testimony at the State’s own
request and that witness has now impeached himself.”

“The confession itself or the statement here is of an unreliable nature;
obviously coerced; obviously given under fear by the statement of the
witness himself. He indicates he would give the police officer or police
officers anything they wanted.”

Peak’s testimony was allowed and Poindexter and Rice were bound over for

The next day, Duane Peak wrote a letter from the Dodge County Jail to
Olivia Norris. In the letter Peak called Norris his “Moms” and explained
the preliminary hearing testimony. Peak did not show any remorse for the
death of Larry Minard but did feel bad over implicating Poindexter and Rice
for possible execution.

“The Lord knows I tried but something happened which forced me to realize
that I had no alternative but to say what I said. No matter what anyone
says from now on I refuse to call myself a man, or anything close to a man,
because I did what I did. Even though there was no other way, because they
already had enough evidence to convict those other two bloods. I don’t
know, maybe I sound kind of nutty but that’s just the way I feel. Or maybe
I’m just trying to get somebody to say what I did was justifiable, but I
know it can’t be justified. I not only turned against those two bloods, but
I turned against myself and my own people. I could have denied everything
and all three of us would have gone up to the chair. And then again if I
denied everything one of those other bloods would have gave them a story
and sent me and the other dude up. But neither one of those is the reason,
I was scared a little but that’s not the reason,? I guess I’ll never know.?
Now I have to wait until my actual trial before I find out whether I get
the chair or life?”

Wopashitwe Mondo Eyen we Langa died in March 2016 at the Nebraska State
Penitentiary serving his life sentence. Edward Poindexter remains
imprisoned at the maximum-security prison where he continues to proclaim
his innocence. Poindexter has a pending sentence commutation request with
the Board of Pardons
but the Board has refused to say when it will take up his case.

*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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