Sifting fact from rumor was the challenge in yesterday’s testimony in the federal court trial of Vine Richard “Dickie” Marshall, charged with supplying the gun that killed American Indian Movement Anna Mae Aquash in 1975.
The trial is being held in Rapid City, S.D., near the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation where the killing occurred, and Heidi Bell Gease of the Rapid City Journal is covering it:
“Did he respond to that?” asked prosecutor Rod Oswald.
“He just kind of said, ‘Well, back in the day, somebody asked you to do something … you didn’t ask too many questions,’” Chapman replied.
Defense attorney Dana Hanna sought to strike the testimony, but U.S. District Judge Lawrence Piersol denied that request.
But the most explosive testimony yesterday had nothing to do with Aquash’s killing, but centered on something that continues to be controversial more than three decades later — the conviction of AIM’s Leonard Peltier for shooting to death two FBI agents:
Darlene “Ka-Mook” Ecoffey, formerly known as Ka-Mook Banks, longtime partner of AIM founder Dennis Banks, said the rumors were circulating on the heels of news that Doug Durham — once a close associate of Banks — was an informant for the FBI.
“I think (AIM leaders) were becoming quite paranoid,” she said.
Ecoffey told how she, her sister Bernie, Banks, Leonard Peltier and Aquash drove to Washington State in a motor home owned by Marlon Brando in November 1975, soon after Banks had failed to appear for sentencing on charges related to the 1972 Custer courthouse riot.
“Did Leonard Peltier talk about things that were incriminating?” Assistant U.S. Attorney Bob Mandel asked Ecoffey.
She said yes, that Peltier, had talked about the fatal shootings of two FBI agents in Oglala on June 26, 1975.
“He said the (expletive) was begging for his life but I shot him anyway,” she said. Peltier was later convicted of murdering the agents and is still incarcerated.
The alleged fractures within AIM relate to the Aquash case because of the contention that Aquash was killed because of suspicion she was an FBI informant.