Opening Statement of Jim McMahon in the
Trial of Arlo Looking Cloud
February, 2004

The United States of America vs. Fritz Arlo Looking Cloud

Court Trial Transcripts

February 2004

Rapid City, South Dakota

The following pages are a duplication of the original court trial transcripts in the case of The United States of America vs. Arlo Looking Cloud.

DISCLAIMER: The original document was automatically scanned and formatted by a Word program by a third party. The original web pages in which the document appeared was no longer available as of May, 2005, therefore this transcript was obtained through Wayback Web archives. Pages for the remaining testimony of Nate Merrick, the testimony of James Glade, Don Dealing, John Munis and the opening testimony of Dr. Gary Peterson were not available as of 5/23/05. The total number of pages missing from the transcript post was listed as 30 pages. NFIC is in the process of obtaining the missing pages by requesting those pages from the original transcript.

Any errors or misspellings occurring in content from the original document are unintentional and mechanically produced, and no liability will be assumed. Any factual corrections to the record by News From Indian Country editors will be found in brackets (). For example, in court testimony, the prosecutor asked about the nickname of William “Bill” Means. The nickname is recorded in the transcript as “Kill” when his nickname is known as “Kills”. The correction here will be recorded in these records as Kill(s).

Footnotes: Other legitimate corrections may be made and recorded as well in brackets if deemed necessary. In no other instance will any information in the court record be changed that isn't in the original document.

* CR. 03-50020
BEFORE: The Honorable Lawrence L. Piersol
Chief United States District Judge
For the District of South Dakota
Sioux Falls, South Dakota


Mr. James McMahon
Mr. Robert Mandel
United States Attorney
Sioux Falls, South Dakota
Attorneys for the Plaintiff.

Mr. Timothy Rensch
Attorney at Law
Rapid City, South Dakota
Attorney for the Defendant.

PROCEEDINGS: The above-entitled matter came on for hearing on the 3rd day of February, 2004 commencing at the hour of 9:00 a.m. in the courtroom of the Federal Building, Rapid City, South Dakota.

Proceedings recorded by mechanical stenography, transcript produced by computer.

JERRY J. MAY, RPR, CM 400 South Phillips Avenue, #305A
Sioux Falls, South Dakota 57104 (605) 330-4877

[NOTE: There is a page from the opening statement that was missing from the original web posting. Efforts to obtain the opening portion of the opening statement are underway.

……This is Anna Mae Aquash. Anna Mae was a member of the

Mik'maq Tribe from Canada. She was a mother of two young


She came to the United States to support the American Indian

Movement. She came down at a time that AIM was occupying

Wounded Knee. She joined the occupation and she stayed. She

spent the next two years attending AIM events, making friends

within the AIM organization. When she wasn't attending events

somewhere else around the country, she was often times on the

Pine Ridge Indian reservation. But at the same time she was

making friends. As we approached the year 1975 there started

to be rumors all through the AIM movement that Anna Mae Aquash

was a government informant. Portions of the AIM movement

within South Dakota had turned somewhat violent. There had

been riots at the Custer courthouse, Minnehaha courthouse in

Sioux Falls, the occupation of Wounded Knee when there was gun

fire exchanged between the occupants and federal authorities,

and there were rumors of many people possibly being

informants. But particularly Anna Mae. We are going to pick

up our story in June of 1975. There was an AIM national

convention held in Farmington, New Mexico. Hundreds of people

gathered from around the country, some of the leaders of the

AIM movement were there, Anna Mae was there, Dennis Banks, one

of the leaders, was there. There were many people there.

Along with Dennis Banks was a young lady by the name of Kamook

Nichols. Kamook finished high school in 1927 at seventeen

years old and following that she entered in to a relationship

with Mr. Banks, and she traveled with him and the two of them

eventually had four children together. They were together in

Farmington. During this national convention there was a

general topic of conversation that Anna Mae was a government

informant. She was confronted down there with the possibility

that she was an informant, she was actually threatened down

there. She denied it. And she was not. After the convention

ended, the participants went back to their various homes.

There were a number of them that came back to South Dakota to

the Pine Ridge Indian reservation, and there was encampment at

a place called Jumping Bull on the Pine Ridge Indian

reservation. On June 26, 1975, two FBI agents by the name of

Coler and Williams were following someone they believed to be

a fugitive, and they found themselves at that encampment.

They came under fire and they were shot and killed. This

escalated the tension immensely between law enforcement and

members of the AIM movement. In the next month, July of 1975

there was a trial in Custer, South Dakota. Dennis Banks was

on trial for his participation in the courthouse riots down

there. Mr. Banks was convicted during that trial, he was let

out on bond pending his sentencing. He went back to the Pine

Ridge Reservation and was waiting around there. He was

supposed to be sentenced approximately four to six weeks

later, something like that. When it was time for him to go

back for his sentencing he made a decision that he was not

going to go back to be sentenced, he decided to run. Kamook

went with him. On September 5, 1975, law enforcement

conducted a raid at a place called Crow Dog's Paradise which

is on the Rosebud reservation. There were a number of people

arrested during that raid and charged with weapons and

explosives violations. Anna Mae Aquash was one of those

people. The people arrested were taken to Federal Court in

Pierre, South Dakota for an appearance. Anna Mae appeared,

she had a court appointed lawyer by the name of Bob Riter from

Pierre. The Judge let Anna Mae out on bond, and she was

supposed to come back on November 10th. After Anna Mae was

out on bond she traveled to California. She stayed with a

friend of her's by the name of Mathalene White Bear. She and

Mathalene had become acquainted through being together at

different AIM organizational events. Mathalene was a young

woman at the time, twenty years old, she was still living at

home with her parents, and Anna Mae stayed with them for a

week or two. During that time Anna Mae shared with Mathalene

that she was - -

MR. RENSCH: At this point I object, getting in to

argument that is inadmissible evidence.

THE COURT: We will see if it is admissible. It is

the attorney's expectation that the evidence will be admitted,

I can't rule on it yet because the evidence hasn't been

presented. So I am not going to sustain the objection,

because I don't know at this point, but it is supposed to be.

If it isn't, I'm sure we will hear about it if it isn't

admitted, proceed.

MR. McMAHON: Thank you. Your Honor. Anna Mae

confided in Mathalene that she had been confronted about

being an informant. She was very fearful for her life. She

was afraid of the FBI, and she was afraid of different

factions within AIM. She told Mathalene that she was

concerned about she may be killed. She received a telephone

call while she was there, she told Mathalene she was leaving.

Mathalene tried to talk her out of it, but Anna Mae said she

was going to go. She met up with a man by the name of David

Hill, and they drove a motor home from Los Angeles back to

Chadron, Nebraska. They parked the motor home there and made

their way up to the Pine Ridge Indian reservation. We are now

approaching Columbus Day, 1975, October 12. There was a

get-together on the Pine Ridge. Mr. Banks was back for the

meeting, Leonard Peltier was there, David Hill was there, Anna

Mae was at this meeting, and Kamook Nichols was at the

meeting. And there may have been others. A plan was hatched

whereby they were going to make some home made bombs and plant

them at utilities in Pine Ridge. Leonard Peltier and David

Hill made Anna Mae participate in that so her fingerprints

would be on the bombs. So the next day when they were planted

they made her participate in that. They then made their way

back to Chadron and picked up the motor home, Mr. Banks,

Leonard Peltier, Anna Mae, and Kamook Nichols, Kamook's

sister, and one or two others were in the motor home. They

were taking Anna Mae with them because they wanted to keep an

eye on her. They traveled from Chadron, Nebraska to the state

of Washington where they camped for two or three weeks.

During that time there were more accusations, more

conversation about Anna Mae being an informant. She was not

allowed to go anywhere alone. When they left that spot they

started on the road, they were traveling down a highway in

Oregon, a Highway Patrolman saw the motor home, he knew who

was in the motor home, and he stopped it. He ordered the

occupants of the motor home out. All of the occupants got out

of the motor home except Mr. Banks. Mr. Banks decided to take

off in the motor home and an exchange of gun fire followed

between the gun fire and the motor home. Mr. Banks got away

during the gun fire, Mr. Peltier got away. Anna Mae was

re-arrested, Kamook Nichols was arrested, there were a couple

other people there that were following in a car that were

arrested. Anna Mae and Kamook Nichols were put in a jail cell

together. Now they hadn't been spending much time together.

They were friends from 1973 when Anna Mae showed up until June

of '75 in Farmington, New Mexico, they became friends and

spent quite a bit of time together. While they were in

Farmington, New Mexico, Kamook learned that Anna Mae Aquash

had also fallen in love and entered in to a relationship with

Mr. Banks. So during the summer months and through that fall

there was not much contact between the two of them. But now

when they were alone together in the jail cell they began

visiting again. And Anna Mae also shared with Kamook that she

was scared. They were in jail up there for about two weeks,

and then they were brought back to this part of the country.

Kamook was taken to Kansas where she was wanted because she

had missed a court date while they were traveling in the motor

home. Anna Mae was taken to Pierre, South Dakota, because she

had missed her November ten court date. She appeared in court

on November 24. This was the day before her trial on the

weapons and explosive charges was set to begin. She met with

her court appointed attorney. When she appeared in court,

even though she had just missed a court appearance, the Judge

let her out on bond again. During the night she was picked up

by two people within the American Indian Movement, Evelyn

Bordeau and her husband Ray Handboy. They transported her to

Denver. She was taken by Theda Clark to the home of Troy Lynn

Yellow Wood. Ms. Yellow Wood had an apartment there and it

was used for members of AIM as more or less of a safe house

when they were on the run. She was dropped off there with

Theda Clark and Michelle Wood to keep her there safe. She was

not initially being held against her will. She spent

Thanksgiving there. She spent in to December there, but she

was very scared while she was there. The first part of

December a call came from South Dakota down to Denver, by

Angie Janis. Said that Anna Mae was an informant, she was

wanted back in South Dakota. A meeting was convened at the

home of Troy Lynn Yellow Wood. Theda Clark was there, and of

course Troy Lynn Yellow Wood was there. Angie Janis was there,

there were some members of the Crusade for Justice there,

which was I believe it was a Chicano organization out of

Denver that had close ties with the AIM people. And there

were other people there who have not yet been identified. The

defendant Arlo Looking Cloud was there, and John Graham was

there, and their job during this meeting was they kept Anna

Mae Aquash in a separate room under guard. When the meeting

ended, Theda Clark came to the room and said let's go. They

got Anna Mae up and they tied her wrists together. They

started escorting her out of the house, they ran in to Troy

Lynn Yellow Wood. Anna Mae was crying, she said I don't want

to go. If I go back to South Dakota you will never see me

alive again. Troy Lynn Yellow Wood had a conversation with

Theda Clark, Theda Clark said she is going one way or the

other. The defendant, Mr. Looking Cloud, and John Graham

marched her out of the apartment, put her in the back, the

hatch end of that little red Pinto car that was owned by Theda

Clark, tied up, then the two of them got in the car along with

Theda Clark. They drove all night to Rapid City. Early in

the morning they arrived and they went to an empty apartment

that was owned by Thelma Rios, another AIM member in Rapid.

The defendant, Mr. Looking Cloud, and John Graham kept Anna

Mae Aquash under guard all day. Theda Clark was in and out of

the house. Some point late in the afternoon Anna Mae was

taken to a house that had been set up for what was called the

Wounded Knee Legal Defense-Offense Committee. They used it to

coordinate the defense of people that had been charged with

criminal cases, or AIM members. There was another meeting at

that time involving Anna Mae, she was seen to be visibly

upset. When they left that house, the defendant, Mr. Graham,

Theda Clark again took Anna Mae, they put her back in the

little red Pinto, again bound up, tied up. The defendant was

now driving and they headed south toward the Pine Ridge Indian

reservation. They first went to a small town, Allen, South

Dakota, on the Pine Ridge reservation. About three or four

hundred people live there, it was late at night by now, about

eleven o'clock at night. They showed up at the house of Cleo

and Dick Marshal. The Marshals were in bed already, they woke

them up, went into the house. They left Anna Mae at the

kitchen table with Cleo. The defendant, John Graham, Theda

Clark and Dick Marshal walked into the next room and shut the

door. A few minutes later they came out. Dick Marshal said

to his wife they want us to keep her here for a while. Cleo

said I don't like the looks of this, no way. So the

defendant, Mr. Graham, Theda Clark take Anna Mae, put her back

in the car again and now they are on their way to Rosebud.

They stop at a house in Rosebud in the wee hours of the

morning. This time just Theda Clark and John Graham go in the

house, and the defendant stays in the car and guards Anna Mae.

While they are in that car, she begs him to let her go. She

tells him she knows she is going to be killed, and she begs to

be set free. The defendant refuses. Theda Clark and John

Graham come out of the house, they get into the car, they

start driving north. North toward Wanblee. Soon they cross

the intersection of Highway 44, they are going north on

Highway 73. Three miles approximately north of that

intersection is where they pulled over. Now as I said to you,

Anna Mae's body laid at the bottom of that cliff until late in

February. Roger Amiotte, a rancher was out riding fence,

found the body and reported it immediately. The body had been

there long enough that it wasn't in very good shape. An

autopsy was done by a doctor by the name of Dr. Brown out of

Scotts Bluff, Nebraska. In a nutshell, that autopsy was

botched. Dr. Brown found that the cause of death was

exposure. Didn't even find the bullet hole in her head.

Commented about the weight of the kidneys, but it turns out

later that the kidneys hadn't ever been removed from the body

to be weighed. Because of the condition of the body, they

couldn't take fingerprints there, so they severed the hands

and sent them back to the lab in Washington, D.C., the FBI

lab. Approximately two weeks later the report came back Anna

Mae Aquash. At that time the FBI and the family of Anna Mae

both started down the same road to obtain a Court order to

have the body exhumed and another autopsy done. That was

done. There was discussions about having two pathologists at

the autopsy, what ended up happening is the pathologist that

was obtained by the Aquash family is the one that did the

second autopsy because the FBI said we are fine with that.

Dr. Garry Peterson from Minneapolis came and did that second

autopsy. He didn't realize even when he arrived that he was

going to do the autopsy. On initial examination of the body

he noticed right away there was what he believed to be a gun

shot wound to the back of the head. He ordered X-rays of the

skull which clearly slowed there was a bullet lodged in the

upper left part of her skull. He completed the autopsy and

found that she had been shot in the head and killed. An

investigation pursued, hundreds and thousands of hours spent,

but because of the tensions of the time between law

enforcement and AIM, there wasn't much cooperation going on.

So the case was not being solved. Years later as the years

went on bits and pieces came in, and finally people started tc

be willing to talk about this. Starting in approximately 1988

the defendant, Mr. Looking Cloud, started to talk to some

people about his involvement in Anna Mae's murder. He made

statements to a number of people. We are going to bring those

statements to you. You are going to hear that the statements

are inconsistent in various areas depending on who he is

talking to. You are going to hear Mr. Looking Cloud profess

his ignorance that he didn't know what was going on. After

you compile and listen to all those statements and the other

evidence, it is going to show you through his own words from

the time in Denver when Anna Mae Aquash was taken, bound and

put in to that little red Pinto, when she was hauled bound and

tied up to Rapid City, when she was hauled bound and tied up

down to the Pine Ridge Reservation, to the Rosebud reservation

and out to that cliff on the south edge of the Bad Lands where

she was killed, Mr. Looking Cloud was there every step of the

way. And when we are done with the evidence, ladies and

gentlemen, we are going to ask you to find him guilty. Thank

you. document index