VANCOUVER, B.C. - A taped interview with John Graham, who is charged with
the murder of Anna Mae Pictou-Aquash, puts him at the scene where the
execution took place.
Aquash was executed on Dec. 12, 1975 on a remote section of the Badlands on
the Pine Ridge Reservation. Her body was found in February 1976.
According to a transcript of a tape obtained by the Associated Press,
Graham said he was with Aquash just moments before she was shot in the back
of the head. Prosecutors assert that Graham pulled the trigger.
The tape explains a trip from Denver to South Dakota with Graham, Arlo
Looking Cloud and Theda Clark, all members of AIM, where Aquash was taken
to a safe house.
Graham did not admit killing Aquash, but the interview did place him at the
location where the execution took place.
Graham, on the tape said he didn't remember going into Bill Mean's house,
he stayed in the car. He said Clark went in, but couldn't remember if
Looking Cloud went in. He did say Clark drove the car from Mean's home on
the Rosebud Reservation to where the killing took place.
At Looking Cloud's trial, witness testimony from John Trudell alleged that
the three received their orders to execute Aquash at Mean's home.
Credibility of the tape is in question by the Graham Defense Committee.
"Regarding this infamous tape, we don't know enough about the tape to have
much insight," said Matthew Lien, director of the Graham Defense Committee.
Lien said when the AP read a portion of the transcript to him he noticed
the interviewer was asking very leading questions "while John is giving
brief answers." Lien alleged that it could be easy to edit this type of
Denise Maloney Pictou, Aquash's daughter and executive director of
Indigenous Women for Justice, which has a transcript of the tape, said by
e-mail interview that the IWJ has asked Graham to take a lie detector test
and also to contact the organization to hear the tape.
"It's interesting that at first the Friends of John Graham denied that he
ever did this interview and said that there was no such tape. Then his
defense committee said they had never heard it. And then after the article
appeared, one of his supporters wrote and said that they were present when
the interview took place and that Graham didn't say what the AP quoted,"
Maloney Pictou said.
"Now the world has had independent verification that the tape exists and
that John Graham puts himself at every venue they dragged my mother to,
including Bill Mean's house. Graham even identifies Theda Clark as driving
from Bill Mean's house to Wanblee [S.D.] where they executed my mother,"
Maloney Pictou said the federal authorities and prosecutors do not have the
tape or the transcripts. "They do not have all the evidence that U.S.
prosecutors will present against Graham, and like everybody else, they will
not know until such time as Graham is extradited and he has an attorney in
the U.S. and the discovery process takes place."
Graham received a delay in his extradition hearing on March 29. The next
appearance will be April 30. Terry LaLiberte said the case was much more
serious than first believed. Graham is under house arrest in Vancouver.
On a related matter, Arlo Looking Cloud was granted a new attorney, Terry
Gilbert of Cleveland, Ohio. Looking Cloud was convicted of aiding and
abetting in Aquash's death. Looking Cloud's trial attorney, Tim Rensch,
asked to be removed from the case.