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Second trial in 1975 Aquash slaying set for June

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By Carson Walker -- Associated Press

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (AP) - The second man charged with the 1975 slaying of an American Indian Movement activist will stand trial in Rapid City starting June 17, according to court documents.

John Graham, 52, was extradited from Vancouver, British Columbia, on Dec. 8, four years after he was arrested and charged with killing fellow AIM member Anna Mae Pictou Aquash on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation. Her body was found in February 1976 north of Wanblee with a gunshot wound to the head.

Graham pleaded not guilty to first-degree murder in U.S. District Court in Rapid City and is being held in the county jail.

The other man charged, Fritz Arlo Looking Cloud, stood trial in 2004, was convicted and given a mandatory life prison sentence. He is a Lakota from Pine Ridge who had been living homeless in Denver.

At his trial, witnesses said Looking Cloud, Graham and another AIM member, Theda Clark, drove Aquash from Denver and that Graham shot Aquash in the Badlands as she begged for her life.

Clark has not been charged. She lives in a nursing home in western Nebraska and has refused to talk about the case.

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Graham, a Southern Shoshone from the Yukon known also as John Boy Patton, denies killing Aquash, though he acknowledged being in the car with her from Denver.

He spent most of the four years fighting his return to South Dakota under house arrest and was extradited following the refusal by the Supreme Court of Canada to review his case.

Graham's lawyer, John Murphy of Rapid City, said he did not want to comment.

U.S. Attorney Marty Jackley said, ''The U.S. attorney's office is looking forward to justice being served in this matter for all those involved, including the family members of Anna Mae Aquash.''

AIM has protested the federal government's treatment of Indians and demanded that the government honor its treaties with tribes. AIM first gained national attention in 1972 when it took over the BIA headquarters in Washington.

The next year, the group occupied Wounded Knee on Pine Ridge during a 71-day standoff that included the exchange of gunfire with federal agents who surrounded the village. Aquash, Mi'kmaq, was there.

American prosecutors said some of the AIM leaders ordered Aquash's killing late in 1975 because they suspected she was a government informant. Those leaders have denied the accusation and blamed the government for her death. Federal authorities also denied any involvement.