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Looking Cloud Lawyer Wants Out

RAPID CITY, S.D. - Arlo Looking Cloud's attorney wants to be fired.

Tim Rensch was the court-appointed attorney who represented Arlo Looking Cloud at his trial. Looking Cloud was convicted of aiding and abetting in the murder of Anna Mae Pictou-Aquash whose body was found in a ravine in South Dakota's Badlands in February 1976.

Rensch filed a motion in federal court on March 17, asking U.S. District Court Judge Lawrence Piersol to remove him from the case.

"Since the trial I have attempted to communicate in person, by letter, and by telephone with the defendant in an effort to prepare this matter for sentencing and possible appeal," Rensch wrote to the court.

He said the attorney-client relationship has "irrevocably and irretrievably broken down."

Rensch said in his motion that an associate from his office attempted to speak with Looking Cloud to inform him of his rights and the conversation turned adversarial and spiteful, which lead Rensch to state that there was no way he and Looking Cloud could work together.

In February, Looking Cloud petitioned the court to remove Rensch as his court-appointed attorney. Judge Piersol said there was no basis for removing Rensch.

Prior to Looking Cloud's trial in early March, Terry Gilbert, a Cleveland attorney, wrote to Judge Piersol and asked to be appointed as co-counsel with Rensch. Judge Piersol said that the appoint him would delay the trial.
"I thought I could compliment the defense. Two lawyers in such a case is essential," Gilbert said.

He wrote to Judge Piersol a second time, but said he had not received a reply. He said he would work with Rensch on the appellate level.

"The judge needs to know that on appeal, it may come to pass that the strategy used by the defense counsel may have to be challenged. It happens all the time, it's not uncommon.

"Another person would have a new look at the case," Gilbert said.

Rensch, in his motion, mentioned that Looking Cloud's family members sent a letter to him with information that another attorney had been retained. However, family members did recant that and said no attorney was hired.

Gilbert said the family has no money and he would take the case only if he were appointed by the court. He was contacted by the family and said he would be happy to be appointed by the court.

"I hope to get appointed. I will look at other issues. There are a lot of issues, a lot of evidence that didn't get presented," Gilbert said.

Gilbert said he was in touch with Rensch before the trial and he knows "my offer. I have no problem with him. I learned of Arlo's wish for a new lawyer. There is a need for new blood in this thing and I'm willing to do it."

Rensch mentioned a previous attorney-client relationship which caused an earlier motion to withdraw. But that relationship was repaired and he told the court he and Looking Cloud were getting along.

"In fact, throughout the trial the defendant expressed to friends and family how pleased he was with my work. His family and friends were very satisfied and overjoyed by how I handled the trial. They all thought we won and were congratulatory and thankful," Rensch wrote in his motion to withdraw.

After the trial when Looking Cloud was found guilty, Rensch said the relationship changed.

Rensch said he was contacted by an attorney who claimed to be the new counsel for Looking Cloud. He added that upon checking with the family that a new attorney had not been hired.

Looking Cloud was convicted by a 12-person jury in February and sentencing will take place in late April.

Attempts to contact Looking Cloud's family were not successful