For Immediate Release
June 17, 2004 - 1915 (PST)
"If Graham's attorneys were in possession of any of the facts, the affidavit they filed for the injunction would not have been riddled with embarrassing inaccuracies; errors that expose them and their client."
The Indigenous Women for Justice have learned this hour that John Graham and his attorneys have filed for an injunction to stop Anna Mae from being returned to the earth just hours before her wake is set to begin on her nation's reserve. Apparently citing demands for a third autopsy to be conducted on the body of the respected First Nations' mother and activist who Graham is indicted of murdering, attorneys for the accused killer will be heard in the Supreme Court of British Columbia on Friday afternoon. Graham has chosen this moment, as traditional elders, family members and friends arrive from all over Indian Country to pay their respects to Anna Mae, to file an injunction and demand another autopsy, when his attorneys could have filed the motion some seven weeks earlier, when Anna Mae's family first brought her home. Why wait until now, on the eve of Anna Mae's funeral? Why deny Anna Mae and her family this moment of peace? As if taking her life wasn't enough, Anna Mae's persecutors now seek to deny her dignity in death.
What does Graham hope to gain by demanding another autopsy? The body has already been identified as Anna Mae's, a matter that was raised and her identity confirmed at Looking Cloud's sentencing. Is he trying to establish that he did not rape Anna Mae? Legally that issue is mute as the statute of limitations has expired on the rape charge. Graham certainly won't find another cause of death, and the bullet he put in Anna Mae's head is no longer there - AIM/WKLD/OC-hired pathologist Dr. Garry Peterson removed it at the second autopsy. So is it just another publicity stunt in the worst possible taste? Along the lines of, "I'm innocent and I tried to prove it by having another autopsy but they wouldn't let us have another autopsy to establish my innocence. They wouldn't let us get DNA evidence." Could that be the reason for this? The family has already addressed the DNA issue. And if any DNA could be collected what would it show? That Graham was among those who raped Anna Mae? Or would DNA establish whether Theda Clark was with Graham and Looking Cloud when Graham shot Anna Mae, or would it indicate that Theda stayed in the car? If Graham's attorneys want to confirm who was present when Graham shot Anna Mae all they need to do is ask Graham, and reference Looking Cloud's statements and the testimony from Looking Cloud's trial. Let us not forget that Graham is on the record, on tape, admitting to having Anna Mae in his custody throughout the ordeal that ended in her death; Graham admits in his own words to being there in the last 36-hours of Anna Mae's life. In a taped interview reviewed and authenticated by the Associated Press, Graham admits in his own words to being present at every location he, Looking Cloud and Clark dragged Anna Mae to before they murdered her. When they left Cleo and Dick Marshall's they took Anna Mae to the Rosebud, to Bill Means' house. On the tape Graham says, "I don't remember going into Bill Means' house. I stayed in the car (with Anna Mae) I know that. Theda went in. And I don't know if Arlo went in or not, I can't really remember that too clear." On the tape Graham is then asked if Theda Clark took over the driving from Arlo when they left Bill Means' to take Anna Mae to Wanblee where they executed her, and he replies, "Yeah. I do remember that. Theda did some driving. Theda drove from Bill Means'." At Looking Cloud's trial John Trudell testified that he believes that it was in that house that Graham and Clark were given the order to kill Anna Mae.
Or is this additional autopsy demand going to be an extension of the "botched first autopsy" argument? If John Graham, Arlo Looking Cloud and Theda Clark had not followed their orders and executed Anna Mae no autopsy would have been required and she might still be alive today. For the record, Ken Tilsen engaged Dr. Garry Peterson to represent WKLD/OC, AIM, and Anna Mae's family at the second autopsy. Dr. Peterson ended up conducting the second autopsy on Anna Mae's body, and from that day to this he has been questioned about this theory that FBI collusion lead to the "botched" first autopsy and that it was part of an FBI cover-up, a theory Dr. Peterson has dispelled and consistently said that he does not believe. "I doubt any knowing cover-up or conspiracy in that first autopsy," Dr. Peterson told pro-AIM author Peter Matthiessen. "I think the oversight was due to haste and lack of careful observation - not that I condone the oversight," he said. Dr. Peterson's testimony at Arlo's Looking Cloud's trial reflected that, and surely his expert opinion - the expert opinion of the professional engaged by AIM - is more credible than that of the John Graham Defense Committee or Graham's grandstanding "cause attorneys."
Had Anna Mae's family not contacted WKLD/OC, Tilsen would not have pushed for a second autopsy on behalf of AIM, and it was Anna Mae's sister who insisted that they find an independent pathologist. Candy Hamilton, who at the time worked for WKLD/OC, has said that Ken Tilsen did not want a second autopsy conducting because it would only cause trouble. This is the same Ken Tilsen who ended up with Anna Mae's billfold after she was murdered, but he can't remember how he got it. Bill Means is on the record talking about conversations he had with Tilsen regarding the second autopsy prior to Dr. Peterson performing it. Why would that be? Because it might "cause trouble"? If the FBI had been involved in a cover-up why were they trying to identify Anna Mae's body? It was the FBI who filed to have Anna Mae's body exhumed so that x-rays could be taken and a second autopsy performed, it was not Bruce Ellison and AIM who filed for the second autopsy. If the feds had been responsible for Anna Mae's murder they would have known who she was and how she died, so they would not have wanted a second autopsy, and they certainly wouldn't have wanted a pathologist employed by WKLD/OC and AIM to perform that autopsy and to discover how she died! For the record, W.O. Brown, who performed the "botched" first autopsy, was contracted by the BIA to perform autopsies on Pine Ridge and his contract was cancelled after the autopsy he performed on Anna Mae's body. Graham's attorneys should familiarize themselves with the facts of this case, not blindly follow the spin of Graham's puppeteer, Vernon Bellecourt, or his legal mouthpiece, Terry Gilbert. If Graham's attorneys were in possession of any of the facts, the affidavit they filed for the injunction would not have been riddled with embarrassing inaccuracies; errors that expose them and their client. The Bar has a responsibility to hold Graham's attorneys accountable for their abysmal conduct, whereas the Bellecourts and Dennis Banks will have to answer to the Creator for theirs.
Why doesn't John Graham tell us why his aunt Theda Clark drove all the way from Denver to Pine Ridge when Dr. Peterson was performing the second autopsy to find out "if they found anything," and when she got her answer turned around and drove straight back. The salient question is who ordered Graham to put the bullet in Anna Mae's head, not how an incompetent pathologist missed it - a third autopsy won't answer that question, Graham could answer it now without causing Anna Mae or her family any more pain. It is a mystery to us how John Graham can continue to stoop so slow as to say that he was Anna Mae's friend, and yet he acts like this. In Graham's 2001 taped interview he is asked if he ever had a relationship of any kind with Anna Mae, to which he replies, "No." He is then asked again if he had a relationship or friendship of any sort with her, to which he says, "No. I never ever did." John Trudell, Matheline White Bear, and others have told us all who Anna Mae's real friends were - John Graham wasn't one of them. With this latest act people may now accept that, despite his claims, John Graham was never a friend of Anna Mae's; what kind of friend would do such a heartless thing as this? The answer is clear - the kind of friend who would shoot you in the head.
Violence against women is not traditional and the Indigenous Women for Justice once again urges Canada to extradite John Boy Graham to face trial for the charge on which he is indicted, the first-degree murder of Anna Mae Pictou-Aquash. With this latest act of callous disrespect, through his attorneys Graham continues his disgusting campaign of emotional violence against Anna Mae and her family.
At a court hearing in Nova Scotia at 9 a.m. today, Graham's attorneys succeeded in acquiring an injunction to stop Anna Mae's funeral. The Pictou-Aquash family are attempting to have the injunction overturned so that they can bury their loved-one with dignity, and so that all of those who have gathered on the Mic-Mac Nation to pay their respects to Anna Mae have not traveled to Nova Scotia in vain. It is evident from the affidavit filed by Graham's attorney, Howard Rubin, that this ploy has been orchestrated by Vernon Bellecourt and Terry Gilbert - the affidavit citing Bellecourt's legal apologist Gilbert throughout. Rubin "misspeaks" in the affidavit, notably misleading the court under oath in the following manner:
"Mr. Gilbert tells me that he has examined the two autopsies that were performed in South Dakota on the body of Anna Mae Pictou-Aquash. The first autopsy from the 1970's is said by the A-USA to have been bungled in that the person performing the autopsy did not find a bullet in the skull of the deceased. However, the first autopsy refers to finding a white mucus composite that appears in the description to be semen. The second autopsy performed about five years later makes no reference to the semen. Mr. Gilbert advises that there has been no disclosure of any DNA testing by the FBI.
(FACT: The second autopsy was not performed "about five years later." It was performed a couple of weeks after the first by Dr. Peterson, the pathologist hired by AIM-WKLD/OC!)
"The DNA testing is important because it is inconsistent with the theory of A-USA Robert Mandel that Anna Mae Pictou-Aquash was kept in custody of the accused as a prisoner at all times from California to Denver to South Dakota to the time that she was murdered by the accused.
(FACT: The prosecution has never said that Graham had Anna Mae in California. When did the prosecution ever say anything about California in connection to Graham, Looking Cloud and Theda Clark taking Annie Mae? It has always been Denver . . . Rubin misleads the court again.)
Graham's co-counsel, Terry LaLiberte, was offered the opportunity to perform the medical examinations they wished so long as they could be completed before Anna Mae's burial, but LaLiberte declined this offer this morning (June 18), stating that "he didn't have time." Graham's counsel has had seven weeks to make this request and have this examination done, isn't that enough time? Or are we expected to believe that, having learned through the international press that Anna Mae's family had brought her home April 23, that Graham and his attorneys didn't realize that the family would be burying their loved-one in the near future? The Pictou-Aquash family gave Graham's team seven weeks to make their requests, yet they have deliberately left it until the eleventh hour to disrupt the wake and funeral, and now they say they don't have time!
We hope that Vernon Bellecourt and Terry Gilbert feel proud of themselves today.
In the spirit of Anna Mae Pictou, Marley Shebala (Navajo/Zuni) — Spokeswoman-Indigenous Women for Justice — email@example.com
We are no longer silenced by fear
The IWJ is a unity sisterhood of women from indigenous nations located