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“Dickie” Marshall acquitted

April 23, 2010

There’s been some AIM days discussions before in these quarters, so I’ll pass along the following information to those who might be interested in those times in Indian Country.

Yesterday afternoon, after less than two hours of deliberation, an all white federal jury found Richard “Dickie” Marshall not guilty of murder in connection with the 1975 slaying of AIM activist Annie Mae Aquash.  It was alleged that Marshall had furnished the .32 revolver to the group that brought Aquash to his house on the way to the badlands where her body was later discovered.  The feds brought the prosecution largely on the strength of the statements of Arlo Looking Cloud.  The Rapid City Journal aptly summed up Mr. Looking Cloud’s function and value in this morning’s paper:

Prosecutors had tried to prove that Marshall, 59, provided the handgun used to kill Aquash, who some in AIM believed was a government informant.

Arlo Looking Cloud, who was convicted in 2004 of her murder and is serving life in prison, was the government’s key witness. After years of denying that he, John Graham, Theda Clarke and Aquash had stopped at Marshall’s home in Allen just hours before Aquash was killed near Wanblee, Looking Cloud came forward in 2008 to say they had stopped in Allen and that Marshall had given them a handgun.

On the witness stand last week, Looking Cloud claimed he did not tell the story sooner because he was afraid of Marshall.

Having followed the reports of Looking Cloud’s testimony and cross-examination during the week long trial, I’m compelled to say that the defense couldn’t have done it without the prosecution’s star witness.  Shall we say, that by Tuesday it was apparent that he was seriously lacking in credibility, a condition that deteriorated on cross-examination. 

I know and have the highest regard for both of the prosecutors on the case and have sympathy for the situation they were in.  I’ve seen and had witnesses like Looking Cloud and it’s kind of like playing with a hand grenade; you never know when the pin is going to come out.

But they had the “scintilla” of evidence necessary to survive the motion for a directed judgment of acquittal and got the case to the jury, which had the good sense to follow the instruction on reasonable doubt.

In July Annie Mae Aquash’s murder moves to state court for the trials of John Graham, a/k/a John Boy Patton, charged with premeditated murder, felony murder committed during a kidnapping and felony murder related to rape, and Thelma Rios, charged with premeditated murder and felony murder committed during a kidnapping.  Both are looking at life without parole if convicted.

Those days die hard in Indian Country, the complete story will probably never be known, and the Aquash family will never have closure.

Denise Pictou Maloney, the older of Aquash’s two daughters, had said before the verdict that the case was a step toward justice, regardless of its outcome, because of the evidence that came forth.                                                                                                                                                                                                   

The verdict “was a toss, we knew that,” she said Thursday. “But it is what it is. And in our territory, the fact that he saw my mother at his house with those people, and did nothing to help her, makes him an accessory in our eyes. And he will never be forgiven for that in our territory.”

— Margadant


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