Prosecutors want man’s alibi for 1975 killing of Aquash

By Carson Walker
Sioux Falls, South Dakota (AP) 8-08

John Graham has said in interviews with news media that people would vouch for his whereabouts when a fellow Canadian and American Indian Movement member was killed in 1975, so he should have to disclose whether he has an alibi, according to a court document filed by prosecutors.

Graham stands trial starting Oct. 6 in federal court in Rapid City on a first-degree murder charge for the slaying of Anna Mae Pictou Aquash on the Pine Ridge Reservation.

Fritz Arlo Looking Cloud was convicted and sentenced to a mandatory life prison term for his role in the crime.

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

Prosecutors filed a request for notice of alibi defense, asking a judge to order Graham to disclose where he was and with whom.

U.S. Attorney Marty Jackley and Assistant U.S. Attorney Bob Mandel allege that:

– On the evening of Dec. 11, 1975, Graham traveled with Aquash, Looking Cloud and Clark from Rapid City to Dick and Cleo Marshall’s house on the Pine Ridge reservation.

– Early the next morning the foursome went to Bill “Kills” Means house on the Rosebud Indian Reservation.

– Graham, Looking Cloud and Clark soon after took Aquash to a spot on Roger Amiotte’s ranch near Wanblee.

AquashAnnaMae.jpg – Graham killed her.

Amiotte found her body two months later. She died from a gunshot wound to the back of the head.

Graham’s lawyer, John Murphy, argued in his response that the government’s request is unfair and unreasonable and that his client should be exempted from the alibi rule.

Prosecutors are relying on a comparison of witness statements and other events to determine the timeframe of when they believe Aquash was killed.

looking_cloud.jpg “Therefore, the government is seeking from Mr. Graham greater recall and specificity than it has obtained from its own witnesses,” Murphy wrote.

The request also is unreasonable because prosecutors waited decades to indict and now expect Graham to recall the specifics of his whereabouts, he argued.

Jackley and Mandel responded that the purpose of an alibi notice is “to prevent surprise and undue delay” and help the search for truth in a criminal trial by giving both sides time to investigate.

The indictment alleges Aquash was killed “on or about” Dec. 12, so any reasonable time near that date is sufficient, they wrote.

The contention that the alibi notice request is unreasonable because of the intervening years “rings hollow” because investigators started talking to Graham about the killing as early as January 1989, the prosecutors wrote.

And Graham said publicly on Feb. 20, 2004: “There are witnesses in South Dakota who can verify my activities, but they will come forward on their own. If there is a trial in South Dakota I would call them,” the federal reply states.

 

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