Final Associated Press write through: By NOMAAN MERCHANT
RAPID CITY, S.D. — A South Dakota jury returned a murder conviction Friday in the decades-old killing of an American Indian Movement activist whose death came to symbolize AIM and its often violent struggles with federal agents during the 1970s.
John Graham, a 55-year-old former member of the group, was convicted of felony murder during the kidnapping of Annie Mae Aquash. The jury acquitted him of premeditated murder.
Lead prosecutor Marty Jackley, the state’s attorney general, said the murder charge carries a mandatory sentence of life in prison. Jackley said he wasn’t sure whether parole was an option.
Prosecutors alleged Graham, a Southern Tutchone Indian from Canada, and two other AIM activists killed Aquash because they thought she was a government informant. The 35-year investigation `”has finally come to find justice,” Jackley said afterward.
As South Dakota Judge John Delaney read the verdicts, Graham gazed straight ahead without moving. His daughter, Naneek Graham, began to weep as jurors stood one by one to affirm the verdicts.