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1975 AIM trial set for May in Rapid City

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. – An oft-delayed trial has been rescheduled for two men charged with the 1975 killing of a fellow American Indian Movement activist.

John Graham and Richard Marshall were set to stand trial the week of Feb. 23 in Rapid City on charges they committed or aided and abetted the first-degree murder of Annie Mae Aquash on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation.

The judge postponed the trial to give the defense more time to prepare and reset it for May 12, more than 33 years after Aquash’s body was found in the Badlands.

“We’ve gotten so used to these delays, it’s almost like it’s expected now and is part of the journey,” said her older daughter, Denise Maloney Pictou.

“We’ve always believed it’s going to come because we believe in truth and we believe in justice.”

Marshall was indicted in August, five years after Graham and Arlo Looking Cloud were charged.

Looking Cloud, a Lakota who was living homeless in Denver, was convicted in 2004 for his role in Aquash’s murder and sentenced to life in prison. He is cooperating with the government in its case against Graham and Marshall.

Witnesses at Looking Cloud’s trial said he, Graham and Theda Clarke drove Aquash from Denver in late 1975 and that Graham shot Aquash, a fellow Canadian, as she begged for her life.

The prosecution accuses Marshall of providing the handgun Graham used to kill Aquash on orders from AIM leaders who suspected she was a government informant.

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Clarke, who lives in a nursing home in western Nebraska, has not been charged.

Graham has denied killing Aquash but acknowledged being in the car from Denver. He is from the Tsimshian Tribe in the Yukon and fought his return to South Dakota in Vancouver, British Columbia, for more than four years. Graham was extradited in December 2007 after the Supreme Court of Canada refused to review his case.

His trial has since been delayed several times and was joined with Marshall’s case, though defense lawyers have asked that the men be tried separately.

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

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