American Indian Movement slaying trial date set for John Graham and Dick Marshall

By Carson Walker
Sioux Falls, South Dakota (AP) 8-09

One of two men charged with killing a fellow American Indian Movement (AIM) member more than 33 years ago is scheduled to stand trial this fall.

U.S. District Judge Lawrence Piersol has scheduled Richard Marshall’s trial to start Oct. 6 in Rapid City. 

Marshall and John Graham pleaded not guilty to federal charges they committed or aided and abetted the December 1975 murder of Annie Mae Aquash on the Pine Ridge Reservation .

Recently, a federal appeals court upheld the dismissal of a key charge against Graham, opening the possibility he could be tried in state court if the federal government doesn’t prosecute him.

Marshall was indicted one year ago – five years after Graham and Arlo Looking Cloud were charged.

Looking Cloud, who was living in Denver, was convicted in 2004 for his role in Aquash’s death and was sentenced to life in prison. He is now a government witness along with several other former members of the American Indian Movement.


Judge Piersol threw out the first indictment against Graham because it did not show that either Graham or Aquash belonged to a federally recognized American Indian tribe. They both belonged to Canadian tribes.

When federal prosecutors re-indicted Graham, Piersol again dismissed a similar charge against him, which delayed the scheduled May trial of Graham and Marshall.

In an unanimous decision affirming Piersol’s ruling, the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of appeals agreed both indictments were flawed because they did not prove that either Graham or Aquash were American Indians as defined by United States law. Tribal status gives the federal government jurisdiction in the case.

Marshall’s lawyer, Dana Hanna, renewed his request for a separate trial days before that ruling, arguing that Marshall has been in jail a year, his request to be released until the trial was denied and jurisdiction is not an issue because he is an American Indian.

Prosecutors believe Marshall gave a .32-caliber revolver and shells to Graham and fellow AIM members Looking Cloud and Theda Clarke, who stopped by Marshall’s house with Aquash hours before Graham shot her.

Clarke, who is in her mid-80s and lives in a nursing home in western Nebraska, has not been charged, though she is a material witness. Her lawyer filed a motion to quash a subpoena, saying she is incompetent to testify due to various medical and age-related ailments.

Clarke, Marshall and Looking Cloud are all Lakotas from South Dakota.

Graham, a Southern Tutchone from the Yukon, fought his return in British Columbia for more than four years before he was extradited in December 2007.

Aquash was a member of Mi’kmaq Tribe of Nova Scotia. Her family exhumed her body from an Oglala cemetery in 2004 and returned it to Canada.


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