The trial for the murder of a young woman 35 years ago on South Dakota’s Pine Ridge reservation finally opened in Rapid City on Wednesday.
Accused is John Graham, a Southern Tutchone Indian from Canada, for the shooting of American Indian Movement activist Annie Mae Aquash 35 years ago, the Belleville News Democrat reports.
The prosecution holds that Graham, also a AIM member, and several alleged accomplishes suspected Aquash of being a government spy.
Where and how the Graham would be prosecuted has held up the trial.
Aquash’s death became synonymous with AIM and its often violent struggles with federal agents in the 1970s, and family members and observers have said Graham’s trial could help to answer lingering questions about why Aquash died and who ordered her killing.
During his narrative about what the state believes happened, Jackley told jurors that Graham and two other AIM activists, Arlo Looking Cloud and Theda Clark, were told in late 1975 to take Aquash from Denver to Rapid City, to the apartment of Thelma Rios.
Looking Cloud was found guilty of his involvement in the murder in 2004 and will likely testify at Graham’s trial. Rios pleaded guilty last month in connection with Aquash’s kidnapping and may also testify.