Clarke ruled competent to testify in Aquash murder trial of Marshall

Rapid City, South Dakota (RCJ) April 2010

Theda Clarke, long considered a key witness in the 1975 murder of American Indian Movement activist Annie Mae Aquash, has been ruled competent to testify in the trial of Richard "Dickie" Marshall trial.

Marshall, 58, is one of several people charged with the death of Aquash, whose body was found on the Pine Ridge Reservation in February of 1976.

Clarke's name came up repeatedly during the 2004 trial of Arlo Looking Cloud, who was also charged in Aquash's murder, but Clarke has never been charged. She has been called as a witness, however.

Her attorneys maintained that Clarke, who is now in her 80s and lives in a Nebraska nursing home, has medical and age-related problems that make it impossible for her to serve as a witness. Medical personnel filed sealed affidavits supporting a motion to quash the subpoena calling for Clarke to testify. Both the defense and the prosecution opposed that motion.

But after a brief question and answer session Tuesday morning before Piersol, Clarke was ruled fit to testify.

Jury selection in Marshall's trial is scheduled to begin April 14th.


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