Two defendants set for state court trial over 1975 Aquash murder
Two people are set to go to trial in South Dakota court in connection with the December 1975 murder of American Indian Movement activist Anna Mae Pictou Aquash.

John Graham, 53, and Thelma Rios, 64, are charged with felony murder in relation to kidnapping and with premeditated murder. Graham also charged with felony murder related to rape.

State prosecutors and defense attorneys are trading motions and filings in preparation for the trial. Issues include the types of evidence that might be presented -- including alleged confessions by Leonard Peltier -- and testimony by people connected to AIM and Aquash.

Graham is a Native man from Canada. The 8th Circuit Court of Appeals said he can't be tried in federal court because he is not a member of a U.S.-recognized tribe.

Rios is a member of the Oglala Sioux Tribe. The crimes for which she is charged occurred in Rapid City, off the reservation.

South Dakota Attorney General Marty Jackley, who handled the Aquash case when he was serving as U.S. Attorney for South Dakota, said the state charges came about because evidence indicates that Aquash was taken to Rapid City and held in a home that was owned by Rios. Jackley said Aquash was raped at the home.

Get the Story:
Judge weighs Peltier confession, Graham statements in 1975 AIM slaying hearing (The Rapid City Journal 8/3)

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