New indictment in AIM slaying days after dismissal

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

A new federal indictment has been handed up against a Canadian man who was days from being tried in the 1975 slaying of a fellow American Indian Movement member when a judge threw out the original charges.

Federal prosecutors said Oct. 7, that the new indictment by a jury in Rapid City addresses the concerns that prompted the dismissal of the earlier charges against John Graham in the slaying of fellow Canadian Annie Mae Aquash in 1975 on the Pine Ridge Reservation.

Graham had been set to stand trial Oct. 6, but a judge on Oct. 3 threw out the original indictment because it did not show that either Graham or Aquash belonged to a federally recognized American Indian tribe. Tribal status gives the federal government jurisdiction in the case.

A federal judge gave lawyers handling a 1975 murder case on the Pine Ridge Reservation until Oct. 14, to indicate whether they could be ready for trial by Dec. 9.

John Graham and Richard Marshall were arraigned on October 10 in federal court in Rapid City on charges of first-degree murder and aiding and abetting the killing of Annie Mae Aquash when all three were active with the American Indian Movement.

Graham was to stand trial Oct. 6. But a judge threw out the indictment because it didn’t show that either Graham or Aquash belonged to a federally recognized American Indian tribe.

Graham is from the Tsimshian Tribe in the Yukon and fought his return to South Dakota in Vancouver, British Columbia, for more than four years. He was extradited in December after the Supreme Court of Canada refused to review his case.


Aquash, a member of the Mi’kmaq Tribe of Nova Scotia, was killed by a gunshot wound to the head near Wanblee. The 30-year-old was among those who occupied the village of Wounded Knee in a 71-day standoff with federal authorities in 1973 that included an exchange of gunfire with agents who surrounded the village.

The new indictment combines Graham’s case with that of another defendant, Richard Marshall, who was charged in August.

U.S. Attorney Marty Jackley said Oct. 7 the new indictment charges Graham and Marshall with three alternative counts of first-degree murder and aiding and abetting Aquash’s killing, and alleges that both men, like the victim, are Indian.

Another AIM member, Arlo Looking Cloud, a member of the Lakota tribe, was convicted in 2004 of killing Aquash and sentenced to a mandatory life prison term.

Witnesses at Looking Cloud’s trial said he, Graham and another AIM member, Theda Clarke, drove Aquash from Denver in late 1975 and that Graham shot Aquash in the Badlands as she begged for her life.

Graham has denied killing Aquash but acknowledges being in the car. Clarke has not been charged.

Some speculated Aquash was killed by AIM members because she knew some of them were government spies, while others said she was executed because she herself was an informant. Federal authorities have said Aquash was not an informant and they had nothing to do with her death.

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