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Writ of Habeas Corpus filed by John Graha May 2013(PDF)

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    For Immediate Release

    Rapid City, S.D. – June 12, 2013

    Release Canadian Native John Graham

    South Dakota Supreme Court Had No Jurdisdiction To Prosecute Graham For Felony Murder, A Charge Not Recognized In Canada, Nor Deemed An Extraditable Offense

    The petition of Habeas Corpus seeking the release of Canadian citizen, John Graham, from South Dakota State Penitentiary, where he is presently serving a sentence of life without parole, challenges Graham’s 2010 conviction on a State charge of felony murder in the death of Anna Mae Aquash. Extradited from Canada in 2007, the charge of premeditated murder against Mr. Graham was dismissed by the Federal Court, but, before being allowed to return to Canada, Mr. Graham was indicted by a Pennington County grand jury. Mr. Graham was subsequently acquitted of the State charge of premeditated murder, but convicted of the felony murder of Ms.

    The Petition argues that:

    • The State Court had no jurisdiction to prosecute Mr. Graham for felony murder, a charge not recognized as a crime in Canada; nor to extradite Mr. Graham, in contravention of the Extradition Treaty, to stand trial on a charge not recognized in both jurisdictions;

    • Mr. Graham’s conviction was fatally flawed by the failure of the jury instructions to list properly the elements of the alleged kidnapping;

    • The indictment and jury instruction were unconstitutionally duplicitous in merging kidnapping and felony murder charges into a single count;

    • His conviction, was based on a South Dakota Statute that repealed in 2005 and was a dead letter; and further, that;

    • Mr. Graham did not receive a fair trial by virtue of the fact that the jury was prevented from access to the background of the case, and from hearing any of Mr. Graham’s witnesses, such that his conviction was based solely on the uncorroborated testimony of co-conspirators and informants.

    Many disturbing parallels exist between the cases of American Indian Movement activists, John Graham, a Southern Tutchone, First Nations man from the Yukon Territory of Canada, and Leonard Peltier, who was convicted of the shooting of two FBI agents at the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in 1975, an indictment and conviction cited in 2010 by Amnesty International as an “Unfair Trial.”


    1. Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus filed by John Graham in the Circuit Court  of the Seventh Judicial Circuit of South Dakota
    (www.grahamdefense.org/graham_habeas_petition201305.pdf) (133 KB)

    2. Injustice: The Controversial Case of John Graham

    For more information, contact:

    Paul Wolf
    Attorney for John Graham
    PO Box 46213
    Denver CO 80201
    (202) 431-6986