Graham ordered extradited to U.S. - 2006


June 23, 2006 Vancouver, British Columbia (CP/ICC)

A former Yukon man wanted in the United States for the murder of an Aboriginal activist 30 years ago was ordered deported in a June 13 extradition order made by the federal justice minister.

Canada's Minister of Justice Vic Toews ordered that John Graham be extradited to the United States to face charges of murdering activist Annie Mae Pictou-Aquash almost 31 years ago.

Graham, also known as John Boy Patton, is accused of killing Pictou-Aquash, a member of the American Indian Movement, and a Mi'kmaq originally from Nova Scotia. She was shot in the back of the head on the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota in December of 1975. Her body was found during February of 1976 near Wambli on the north end of the reservation

Graham was arrested in December 2003 for the first-degree murder of Aquash, over a year from the date of his indictment by a federal grand jury in the case after slipping away from Canadian police sent to arrest him. Grand juries had reviewed evidence in the case in 1976, 1984, 1994 and 2002 after new breaks in the case were made.

Terry LaLiberte, one of Graham's lawyers, said Graham feels his fate is now sealed.

"He's very, very stressed by it, it's a life sentence hanging over his head," LaLiberte said.

"He saw what happened to his co-accused in the kangaroo court." Graham's co-accused, Fritz Arlo Looking Cloud, was convicted of first-degree murder two years ago and sentenced to life in prison.

Looking Cloud told FBI agents in a videotaped statement shown in court that he witnessed Graham kill Aquash.

Graham has said he had nothing to do with Aquash's death, that the two met in Minneapolis and struck up a friendship as young AIM members and fellow Canadians.

LaLiberte claimed the United States did not properly test any of the evidence submitted against his client and that he was not permitted to cross-examine anyone.

Under the U.S./Canadian Extradition Act the United States only had to prove that enough evidence existed that Graham could be charged with a simular charge of murder in Canada. The U.S. was not required to provide an index, or reveal all its evidence to the Canadian extradition court.

Last year, the B.C. Supreme Court ruled that Graham should be sent to the U.S. and now Justice Minister Vic Toews has followed up with an extradition order.

LaLiberte said a joint appeal will be launched of both the court's decision and Toews's extradition order.

Lawyer Greg Delbigio, who is also representing Graham, said he expected the court date for the appeal to be set in the B.C. Court of Appeals in Vancouver for both appeals, and where he also argued an extension of Graham's bail.

On June 23rd, the B.C Court of Appeals set an October 30 status hearing in the case and continued Graham's present conditions for his $25,000 bond, which includes home confinement and daily contact with law enforcement officials.