Graham to be extradited

Author:
Updated:
Original:

VANCOUVER, British Columbia -- John Graham will be extradited from Canada
to face first degree murder charges in the United States if an appeal
fails.

Canadian Judge Elizabeth Bennett gave her ruling on Feb. 21 to a packed
courtroom filled with Graham supporters. He will be taken into custody
pending the appeal process that will be filed by his attorney Terry
LaLiberte.

Graham is one of two people charged with the execution-style murder of Anna
Mae Pictou-Aquash in 1975 on the Pine Ridge Reservation. The other, Arlo
Looking Cloud, is serving a life sentence for the murder.

Graham stayed calm during the verbal ruling by Judge Bennett and later said
he was not surprised, but disappointed. He told reporters that the new
extradition laws of Canada fail to give power against the United States
government.

The daughter of Pictou-Aquash, Denise Maloney of Halifax, Nova Scotia
praised the court's decision. She told Canadian press in a telephone
interview that she was pleased the Canadian government put value on her
mothers' life and that the matter belongs in a court of law.

An appeal will be filed before the justice minister signs a removal order
so Graham can be sent to the United States. Pending the outcome of the
appeal, Graham could stand trial in South Dakota federal court.

The decision to extradite is based almost solely on the identification of
the defendant. All that has to be proven is that John Graham is the person
the United States had identified as the defendant in the case.

Arguments stated the case made by the United States, which was represented
by the Crown, was weak at best and that the witness's testimony the
government said it had was false. One of the "elderly witnesses" the
prosecution continually asserted would testify against Graham died more
than six months ago. Another witness, medicine man Al Gates, allegedly was
told by Graham that he didn't know if what he did was right or wrong and
that if he went down, he would take some others with him. Gates has since
denied any knowledge of that conversation.

The person said to be Graham's accuser, Arlo Looking Cloud, has since
stated he would not testify against Graham and has filed affidavits
claiming he was drugged and given alcohol while being interrogated by
federal authorities and BIA law enforcement agent Robert Ecoffey. Ecoffey
has since married Ka-Mook Banks, who testified against Looking Cloud at
trial and was paid by the FBI. Looking Cloud refused to testify to a grand
jury.

Looking Cloud's attorney, Terry Gilbert, has filed an appeal on behalf of
his client. Looking Cloud now claims he was coerced into telling the story
of the Pictou-Aquash execution and naming Graham as the person who pulled
the trigger.

There is no indication, if Graham is extradited, when a trial will begin.