Trial for 1975 S.D. AIM killing now set for October 6, 2008

By Carson Walker
Sioux Falls, South Dakota (AP) 6-08

A new trial date has been set for a Canadian charged with killing a fellow American Indian Movement member, also from Canada, 32 years ago in South Dakota.

John Graham has pleaded not guilty to first-degree murder for the slaying of Nova Scotia native Anna Mae Pictou Aquash around Dec. 12, 1975, on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation.

His federal trial has been delayed a couple of times but now is scheduled to start Oct. 6 in Rapid City and last at least two weeks.

GrahamÂ’s lawyer, John Murphy of Rapid City, asked the judge to waive his clientÂ’s right to a speedy trial so he could have more time to prepare.

The defense has been given 112 audio tapes containing an unknown number of hours of witness interviews; it has received about 5,000 documents, excluding transcripts, Murphy wrote in his request.

Murphy and federal prosecutors Marty Jackley and Bob Mandel filed a joint motion to delay the trial by two weeks. U.S. District Judge Lawrence Piersol granted it June 19th according to the court order.

Another man charged with killing Aquash, Fritz Arlo Looking Cloud of Denver, was convicted in 2004 and sentenced to a mandatory life prison term. A federal appeals court has upheld the conviction of Looking Cloud, who is in a Louisiana prison.

At his trial, witnesses said that he, Graham and another AIM member, Theda Clark, drove Aquash from Denver and that Graham shot Aquash in the Badlands near Wanblee as she begged for her life.

Graham, a Yukon native also known as John Boy Patton, denies killing Aquash, though he acknowledged being in the car with her from Denver. He was extradited from Vancouver, British Columbia, in December.

Clark has not been charged. She lives in a nursing home in western Nebraska and has refused to talk about the case.