New trial date set for ‘75 SD reservation slaying

Rapid City, South Dakota (AP) May 2010

A new trial date has been set for two suspects in the 1975 death of an American Indian Movement activist in western South Dakota.

John Graham and Thelma Rios will be tried together on state charges on Nov. 29, the state attorney general’s office announced. Previous trial dates were set for March and July.

Graham, who is from Canada’s Yukon territory and belongs to the Southern Tutchone tribe, faces one count each of felony murder in relation to kidnapping, felony murder in relation to rape, and premeditated murder in the slaying of Annie Mae Aquash in December 1975.

Federal charges against Graham were dropped after federal courts concluded the U.S. did not have jurisdiction because he does not belong to an American Indian tribe.

Rios, another AIM member, is charged in state court with one count each of felony murder in relation to kidnapping and premeditated murder.

They have both pleaded not guilty to the charges.

Durng April, Richard Marshall was found not guilty in federal court of first-degree murder in Aquash’s death. Prosecutors had said he provided the gun used in the killing.

Aquash, a member of the Mi’kmaq Tribe of Nova Scotia, participated in the AIM’s 1973 armed occupation of the Pine Ridge village of Wounded Knee, a two-month siege that included several gunbattles with federal officers.

Prosecutors believe AIM leaders later ordered Aquash killed because they thought she was a government informant.

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