COURT CASES IN RAPID CITY AND SIOUX FALLS, SOUTH DAKOTA

TWO CHARGED WITH ASSAULTING TRIBAL OFFICER
BY RAPID CITY JOURNAL STAFF

JANUARY 7, 2008

RAPID CITY, SD. – Two St. Francis men face multiple federal charges after allegedly assaulting a Rosebud Sioux Tribal Police officer.

Antoine Bear Robe, 22, and Eric King, 25, both pleaded not guilty in U.S. District Court to charges of assaulting a federal officer in connection with an alleged assault Nov. 11 in Todd County. Both men are also charged with sexual abuse and aiding and abetting a crime for allegedly engaging in a sexual act with a woman who was incapable of giving consent.

King also faces two counts of assault with a dangerous weapon for allegedly assaulting a woman by biting and kicking her.

The maximum penalty upon conviction for assaulting a federal officer and for sexual abuse is 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine. The assault charge carries a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine upon conviction.

Both men were detained pending trial.

In other federal court news:

* Todd Kal Wilcox, 27, Mission, pleaded guilty to abusive sexual contact. He admitted to having sexual contact with a child who was 10 or 11 years old when the incident happened, between May 30, 1999, and July 21, 2001, in Todd County. The maximum penalty is 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine. Wilcox was released on bond pending sentencing March 31.

* Rydell Iron Rope, 34, Timber Lake, pleaded not guilty to a two-count indictment charging him with aggravated sexual abuse of a child. Federal court documents show he is accused of having sexual contact with a child younger than 12 at Timber Lake between Jan. 1, 2003, and Nov. 13, 2006. The maximum penalty upon conviction is life in prison and a $250,000 fine. Iron Rope was detained pending trial.

* Carlos Torres-Ortiz, 33, Denver, pleaded not guilty to a charge of conspiracy to distribute cocaine and marijuana. According to a news release from the U.S. Attorney’s Office, the charge relates to incidents in July 2006 when Torres-Ortiz and others allegedly distributed marijuana and 500 grams of cocaine on Pine Ridge Indian Reservation. The maximum penalty upon conviction of conspiracy to distribute cocaine is a mandatory minimum of five years up to a maximum of 40 years in prison and a $2 million fine. The marijuana conspiracy charge is punishable by up to five years in prison and a $250,000 fine upon conviction. No trial date was set.

* Steve Buchanan, 55, Custer, pleaded not guilty to a charge of manufacturing a controlled substance. According to a news release from the U.S. Attorney’s Office, the charge stems from an incident in February 2006 near Custer when Buchanan allegedly attempted to manufacture methamphetamine. The charge carries a mandatory minimum sentence of five years in prison up to a maximum of 40 years in prison and a $2 million fine upon conviction. No trial date was set.

* Dominic C. Barrera, 38, Mission, made his initial court appearance on a four-count indictment charging him with two counts of assault with a dangerous weapon and two counts of assault resulting in serious bodily injury and aiding and abetting. Federal court documents show Barrera and a co-defendant, George Casey Schmidt, are accused of assaulting two Todd County men with “shod feet” on Dec. 6 in Todd County. The maximum penalty upon conviction for each count is 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine. Barrera was detained pending further court proceedings.

* Hutchinson Abdo, 19, Lower Brule, made his initial court appearance on an indictment charging him with conspiracy to distribute and possess with intent to distribute a controlled substance. According to a news release from the U.S. Attorney’s Office, Abdo is accused of distributing and possessing with the intent of distributing marijuana within 1,000 feet of an elementary school, playground and youth center and to a person under 21 years old. No further details were available. The maximum penalty upon conviction is 10 years in prison and a $500,000 fine. Abdo was detained pending further court proceedings.

* Louis Boyd, also known as Louis Williamson Boyd Jr., 29, Mission, pleaded not guilty to a one-count indictment charging him with possession of a firearm by a prohibited person. He is accused of possessing a firearm in September 2007, having been previously convicted of a crime punishable by more than one year in prison. Federal court records show Boyd pleaded guilty to a sexual-abuse charge in 1999 and served one year and one day in custody. The maximum penalty upon conviction for the firearm charge is 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine. He was released to a third-party custodian pending further trial.

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JUDGE HEARS MOTIONS IN RAPE CASE

BY RAPID CITY JOURNAL STAFF

MONDAY, JANUARY 7, 2008

RAPID CITY, S.D. – A Rapid City man charged with the August rape of another man appeared Friday before 7th Circuit Judge Merton B. Tice on several motions.

Barry Teal, 45, is charged with second-degree rape, which is defined as having sex with someone using force or coercion.

He faces a maximum sentence of 50 years in prison if convicted.

Teal’s attorney asked Tice on Friday that prosecutors be responsible for conducting DNA tests on a mattress and on other evidence.

Tice ruled that prosecutors, who have already tested the evidence they plan to use, are not required to do that. Tice also denied a motion by the defense to have the alleged victim’s psychological records.

Tice ruled that Tracey Decker and Lara Roetzel, the deputy Pennington County state’s attorneys prosecuting the case, must provide names and addresses of family members of the alleged victim to the defense.

Teal remains free on bond. His next court appearance will be a Jan. 24 status hearing.

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DEFENSE WANTS AQUASH UNDERGARMENT FOR TESTING

SIOUX FALLS — A man charged with killing American Indian Movement activist Anna Mae Pictou Aquash 32 years ago wants federal prosecutors to turn over evidence from the body for DNA testing.A Denver man is already serving a life sentence in the case.John Graham was extradited from British Columbia in December, four years after he was charged with killing Aquash, a fellow AIM member from Nova Scotia, around Dec. 12, 1975, on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation.

Graham pleaded not guilty in federal court in Rapid City to first-degree murder. His trial is scheduled to start June 17 in Rapid City.

Graham’s lawyer, John Murphy, asked a federal judge this past week to make the government reveal the location of and make available to a defense expert for testing Aquash’s underwear and a sanitary napkin taken at the first autopsy.

A rancher found the unidentified body Feb. 24, 1976, north of Wanblee. The local coroner, Dr. W.O. Brown, ruled she died of exposure to the cold.

Brown found evidence of acid phosphate in her vagina, from which he concluded she had sex shortly before her death, Murphy wrote in his memorandum filed with the request.

Brown turned over the evidence to the FBI after the autopsy, Murphy wrote.

The FBI then used an identification procedure common at the time that involved cutting off the hands, which was done and weeks later identified the body as Aquash.

The remains were exhumed from an Oglala grave and a second autopsy by Minneapolis pathologist Garry Peterson revealed she had been shot in the back of the head with a .38-caliber handgun. He ruled the death a homicide.

Brown, now deceased, then wrote that he “inadvertently overlooked” the bullet, although Peterson said a nurse at the first autopsy remembered seeing blood flowing from the head wound.

The peculiar circumstances compounded allegations that federal agents were involved in the slaying, which they have denied. They have said AIM leaders order the killing.

Murphy wrote in the court document that Graham notified prosecutors Feb. 7 he wanted the underpants and sanitary napkin tested and asked whether the items had ever been checked for DNA.

Prosecutors have not responded, he wrote.

“Mr. Graham needs to have these items preserved and tested in order to fully investigate the facts of his case. DNA testing on these items may lead to the production of material evidence that assists Mr. Graham in his defense by implicating others in the crime alleged, corroborating other witnesses’ version of events that implicate uncharged third parties in this crime, and by attacking the credibility and consistency of the government’s theory of prosecution,” Murphy wrote.

Murphy was unavailable for comment. U.S. Attorney Marty Jackley is not allowed to discuss pending court cases.

Another man charged with killing Aquash, Fritz Arlo Looking Cloud, was convicted in 2004 and given a mandatory life prison sentence. He is from Pine Ridge but had been living homeless in Denver.

In an earlier court filing, Murphy asked the judge to require prosecutors to turn over all of Looking Cloud’s statements so Graham can spot inconsistencies, some of which were made under the influence of drugs and alcohol.

“The government’s only alleged witness to the crime, Mr. Looking Cloud, is an accomplice who has been sentenced to life and who has a motive to fabricate,” he wrote.

At Looking Cloud’s trial, witnesses said he, Graham and another AIM member, Theda Clark, drove Aquash from Denver and that Graham shot Aquash in the Badlands as she begged for her life.

Clark has not been charged. She lives in a nursing home in western Nebraska and has refused to talk about the case.

Graham, a Yukon native also known as John Boy Patton, denies killing Aquash, though he acknowledged being in the car with her from Denver.

(Articles courtesy of the Rapid City Journal:  http://www.rapidcityjournal.com )

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