Aquash family “devastated” over Graham case delay

By Carson Walker
Sioux Falls, South Dakota (AP) 10-08

John Graham “pulled off the cruelest of 11th hour heists” by forcing another delay in his trial that was scheduled to start Oct. 6 on charges he killed Annie Mae Aquash in 1975, her family said in a statement.

U.S. District Judge Lawrence Piersol canceled the Rapid City trial Oct. 3 after concluding the indictment was “fatally defective” because the government failed to present the issue of whether Graham was an Indian to the grand jury.

Graham and Aquash were Canadian citizens and members of Canadian tribes, but the indictment doesn’t show that either is a member of a federally recognized American Indian tribe, which the law requires, argued his lawyer, John Murphy.

Aquash’s older daughter, Denise Maloney Pictou, didn’t comment on the ruling but wrote in a statement that “lies and cowardice collide with irony” with it because Graham first claimed he couldn’t get a fair trial in the U.S. because he is Indian, then argued he wasn’t.

Family members are “devastated” they have to wait longer, she wrote.

“After 33 years, our family’s journey is beginning to feel more like an exorcism of truth than a quest for justice,” Maloney Pictou wrote.

“Our mother’s spirit has been captive in this charade for long enough. Assaulted, raped and murdered in life, Annie Mae’s Spirit continues to be assaulted and denied justice. The rape continues.”

Graham’s daughters could not be reached for comment.

Murphy said he did not want to comment.


Aquash, a member of Mi’kmaq Tribe of Nova Scotia, died of a gunshot wound to the head near Wanblee on the Pine Ridge Reservation. Her body was found Feb. 24, 1976, and she was buried weeks later as Jane Doe but was disinterred when tests determined it was her body.

Aquash was reburied at an Oglala cemetery but her family exhumed the body in 2004 and returned it to Canada. She was laid to rest a third time at the Indian Brook reservation in Shubenacadie, Nova Scotia.

In her statement, Maloney Pictou wrote that Graham’s previous attorneys intervened in the 11th hour of preparing for the ceremony over a demand for DNA testing.

“During our traditional wake for our mother we were served with an injunction, filed with embarrassing inaccuracies and false information by Graham’s lawyers in Canada threatening yet again to cancel our 28-year-old delayed funeral,” she wrote.

The reburial was ultimately allowed because the lawyers dropped their request for a third autopsy after DNA tests concluded the body was too decomposed.

See Statement by Maloney/Pictou Family - An Exorcism of Truth: The dismissal of John Graham's murder charges

See related article: Murder charges dropped in Aquash case - Dillon and Gates testimony - Rios appointed attorney

See related article: Prosecutors in 1975 AIM slaying argue to show evidence Canadian victim was raped

See related article:  U.S. indicts Richard Marshall in Aquash murder case

See related article: Feds: Aquash was bound and raped before 1975 execution

See narratives of historical NFIC investigation into Aquash murder case

See other historical articles on the Aquash case at

See related article: Prosecutors refuse details of cooperating Witnesses

See related 2001 Editorial: It's murderers who make headlines and devastate families