Wednesday, July 11, 2007

John Graham - Canadian Rights Violated

John Graham was a resident of the Mount Pleasant Neighbourhood until he lost his appeal to the BC Supreme Court of Appeal to stop his extradition to the United States, June 26th. He is currently in jail awaiting the decision to hear his case in the Supreme Court of Canada.

Why should You be interested in John's case? It could happen to you, especially if you are a visible minority.

The FBI want to extradite a Canadian Citizen, for a CONTROVERSIAL murder of another Canadian Citizen (both are Canadian aboriginal First Nations People). The controversy is, the FBI may have been involved with the murder and they are 'covering' up their part in it. After all, they did the first autopsy and found the cause of death to be due to 'exposure'. After the family of the murder victim had an independent coroner do a second autopsy, it was learned the person was shot in the head. How could the FBI 'miss' something so obvious.

In the early 1990's, the National Film Board of Canada produced a documentary on the murder of Anna Mae Aquash. Even the family suspected the FBI involvement of this murder. Now the FBI have to change their story their story to save 'face'. Thirty years after the murder the FBI 'suddenly' have 'new' evidence, and John Graham's nightmare begins.

The following is written by the RCMP officer who had arrested Leonard Peltier. Peltier's case is very much related to John Graham's. Leonard Peltier was also extradited from Canada on fabricated evidence and sentenced to life imprisonment, also on fabricated evidence, and suppressed evidence would have shown his innocence. The same fate awaits John Graham unless the Canadian Government stops the extradition. If the US want a trial, let him be tried in Canada where he can receive a fair trial.

Letter by Bob Newbrook

The charge by the FBI against John Graham, a Tuchone Native of the Yukon, for a murder which occurred in South Dakota in 1976 is again a blatant fabrication of evidence.

According to FBI documents, the frozen body of a Native woman was found on private land near Wanblee, South Dakota on February 24, 1976. The following day, a pathologist for the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA), Dr. W.O. Brown, performed an autopsy which included, by his statement, “the removal of the brain from the body” and determined the cause of death to be exposure. The corpse’s hands were severed and sent to FBI headquarters for further finger print analysis. The body was buried as Jane Doe and subsequently identified as that of Anna Mae Pictou Aquash, a Mi-Kmaq Native of Nova Scotia, Canada, who was a member of the AIM and a U.S. federal fugitive at the time of her death.

On demand by counsel acting for the family of the deceased, Bruce Ellison, the body was exhumed on March 11, 1976 and a pathologist of the families choosing, Dr. Garry Peterson, determined the cause of death as a bullet wound to the head.

Mystery and intrigue have surrounded the case for years. On September 16, 1999, a distant cousin of Anna Mae, Robert Pictou-Branscombe, convened a press conference in which he stated that FBI provocateur Douglass Durham had planted rumors about Anna Mae being an FBI informant. He further alleged that she was taken to a house on the Rosebud reservation in South Dakota, where she was interrogated by other AIM members, and a self-proclaimed Executive Director of AIM, Vernon Bellecourt, had ordered her execution. Branscombe also alleged that she was killed by Graham.

The FBI quickly responded by stating that new evidence would be put before a grand jury. In 2003, a homeless alcoholic named Arlo Looking Cloud was arrested, tried and convicted of being an accessory to the first degree murder of Anna Mae. The evidence was a video showing Looking Cloud being interviewed by police while in detention, stating that he and John Graham had taken Anna Mae in a car driven by a Native woman named Theda Clark to a place where he saw John Graham take Anna Mae to an embankment by a fence and shoot her in the head on December 12, 1975. Looking Cloud had visited the scene with police officer Bob Ecofy shortly before the trial, supposedly to re-enact the crime for police evidence.

There are many discrepancies associated with the evidence at trial, which the government appointed lawyer for the defense, Tim Rensch of Rapid City, did not broach. For example, the pathologist, for the BIA, Dr. W.O. Brown, had stated in his report of the autopsy which he had performed on February 25, 1976, that the body had been dead for 7 to 10 days, putting the time of death around February 18 to February 15, 1976, and not December 12, 1975 as stated by Looking Cloud. Also, had the body been laying in the cold open countryside for over 2 months, the flesh would have been scavenged by coyotes and crows. The owner of the ranch who discovered the body, Roger Amiotte, stated that the fence in question had not been erected until some 15 years after he found the body. Additionally, Mr. Amiotte stated that the body was wrapped in a blanket when he found it.

In FBI documents titled “A summary of investigation of the murder of Anna Mae Aquash”, it is stated that “During the crime scene search, the earth below where Aquash’s head had rested was spaded in an effort to obtain physical evidence of which none was located and no earth was removed from the scene”. The documents also state that there was no evidence of foul play. This contradicts the evidence on tape given by Looking Cloud, which was used to convict him and indict Graham, that Anna Mae was shot in the head at the scene where the body was found. If this were the case, blood would certainly have been present. A separate document makes reference to certain staff members in the hospital where the body was taken who noted matted blood in the hair on the head of the corpse.

It seems clear that Anna Mae Aquash was murdered elsewhere and transported to the location where her body was found. After exhumation of the body and the FBI’s official statement’s loss of credibility, a different story was concocted and John Graham implicated. He was arrested in Vancouver in December, 2003. During an interview with me at the pre-trial detention center, he stated that he had driven Anna Mae to a safe house on the reservation in 1975 when she had told him that FBI Special Agent David Price had previously arrested her and taken finger prints, photographs and notations of body markings for future identification purposes. Also, she said Price had threatened her that unless she named the AIM members present at the Oglala shootout at the time of the deaths of the two agents, she would not live another year.

The onus lies with the prosecution to prove guilt. Court is not a crucible for truth, and witnesses are routinely coached prior to testifying in order to achieve predetermined results; nuances are shaded, memories reprocessed and vulnerable suspects can be intimidated into confessing to something of which they are not guilty. The FBI has power and privilege. The persecution of John Graham is a clear attempt by the FBI to vindicate themselves with respect to this shameful and abhorrent chapter of history.

John Graham was committed for extradition in appellate court on June 26, 2007.

--Bob Newbrook, June 26, 2007.

1 comment:

  1. I have tried repeatedly to get in contact with John Graham and Arlo Looking Cloud. Neither man killed Anna Mae. Theda Nelson Clark and her nephew John Boy Patton killed Anna Mae. Graham's attorney will not talk with me, as would not Arlo's attorney. I wonder why?