Accused AIM killer going to trial

Nov. 29, 2010 at 7:35 PM
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RAPID CITY, S.D., Nov. 29 (UPI) -- Trial will begin this week for a Canadian man accused of the execution-style killing of Indian activist Anna Mae Pictou-Aquash 35 years ago, officials say.

The federal trial in South Dakota for John Graham of Vancouver, British Columbia, a Southern Tsimshian originally from Yukon, is tied into the American Indian Movement, the occupation of Wounded Knee and the ensuing spillover of violence at the Pine Ridge Reservation from 1973 to 1975, Postmedia News reported Monday.

Pictou-Aquash left AIM and moved to Denver having been accused of being an FBI informant.

Prosecutors allege three AIM members -- Graham and Americans Theda Clark and Arlo Looking Cloud -- kidnapped Pictou-Aquash, and instead of bringing her back to Pine Ridge as they were supposed to do (by whose orders, it's unclear), they tied her up, drove her north, raped her, interrogated her and drove her to the edge of a ravine on the reservation, documents say.

"Aquash begged to go free," prosecution documents say. "She was crying and praying for her kids, and begging them not to do this. Looking Cloud and Graham marched Aquash up a hill and Graham shot her at the top of a cliff. Her body was either thrown, or it tumbled to the bottom."

Graham, now 55, maintains he is innocent and that federal authorities offered him immunity four times if he would name those responsible for Pictou-Aquash's death. He fought extradition to the United States, but ran out of appeals in Canadian courts, Postmedia said.

Thelma Rios, another former AIM member who was to have stood trial with Graham pleaded guilty this month to being an accessory to Pictou-Aquash's abduction.

In 2004, Looking Cloud was convicted of "aiding and abetting" Pictou-Aquash's murder and is serving a life sentence.

Theda Clark has never been charged.

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