From: Free Leonard!
Date: 31 Jul 2007, 11:23 AM Early life of Leonard Peltier–source Wikipedia
Leonard Peltier was born in September 1944 in Grand Forks, North Dakota, the son of Leo Peltier and Alvina Robideau. He spent his early years living with his grandparents on the Turtle Mountain Indian Reservation. Peltier became involved in the American Indian Movement (AIM), eventually becoming the only person to serve a lengthy prison term for any of numerous incidents arising from the conflicts that occurred on the Pine Ridge Reservation in the early 1970s.
–Shootout at Jumping Bull Ranch
On June 26, 1975, Special Agents Williams and Coler were allegedly searching for a young Pine Ridge man named Jimmy Eagle, wanted for questioning in connection with the recent assault and robbery of two local ranch hands. It is believed that he had stolen a pair of cowboy boots. Williams and Coler observed and approached a vehicle matching the description of a truck Eagle was said to have been in several days earlier.
At the time, Peltier was a fugitive, with a warrant issued in Milwaukee charging unlawful flight to avoid prosecution for the attempted murder of an off-duty Milwaukee police officer (of which he was later acquitted).
–Williams radioed that he and Coler had come under high-powered rifle fire from the occupants of the vehicle and were unable to return fire to any effect with their .38 pistols and shotguns. FBI Special Agent Gary Adams was the first to respond to Williams’ call for assistance, and he also came under intense gun fire from Jumping Bull Ranch.
–The FBI, the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA), and the local police spent much of the afternoon pinned down on Highway 18, waiting for other law enforcement officers to launch a flanking attack. At 2:30 p.m., a BIA rifleman in the flanking group got a bead on one of the shooters, Joe Stuntz, and killed him.
–At 4:30 p.m., authorities recovered the bodies of Williams and Coler at their vehicle, and at 6 p.m. laid down a cloud of tear gas and stormed the Jumping Bull houses, finding Stuntz’s corpse clad in Coler’s green FBI field jacket.
–The others, authorities later reported, had slipped away from the compound after Stuntz’s death, to cross White Clay Creek and hide in a culvert beneath a dirt road. With police focused on the storming of Jumping Bull, the group made a break for the southern hills. In the following days, they split into smaller groups and scattered across the country, setting off a nationwide manhunt that lasted eight months.
–The FBI reported Williams had received a defensive wound from a bullet which passed through his right hand into his head, killing him instantly. Coler, incapacitated from earlier bullet wounds, had been shot twice in the head execution style. In total 125 bullet holes were found in the agents’ vehicles, many from a .223 (5.56 mm) rifle. The FBI investigation concluded the agents were killed at close range by the same .223 caliber rifle.
On September 5, 1975, Agent Williams’ handgun, and shells from both Agents’ handguns, were found in a vehicle near a residence where Dino Butler was arrested.
–On September 9, 1975, Peltier purchased a Plymouth station wagon in Denver, Colorado. The FBI sent out descriptions of it and a recreational vehicle (RV) in which Peltier and associates were believed to be traveling. An Oregon State Trooper stopped the vehicles based on the descriptions and ordered the driver of the RV to exit, but after a brief exchange of gunfire, Peltier escaped on foot. Authorities later identified the driver as Peltier. Agent Coler’s handgun was found in a bag under the front seat of the RV, where authorities reported also finding Peltier’s thumbprint. On December 22, 1975 he became the 335th person named by the FBI to the Ten Most Wanted Fugitives list.
–On September 10, 1975, a station wagon blew up on the Kansas Turnpike near Wichita, and a burned-up AR-15 was recovered, along with Agent Coler’s .308 rifle. The car was loaded with weapons and explosives which were apparently accidentally ignited when placed too close to a hole in the exhaust pipe. Present in the car among others were Robert Robideau, Norman Charles, and Michael Anderson, said to be associates of Peltier.
–Peltier fled to Hinton, Alberta, Canada, where he hid out at a friend’s cabin. He was eventually apprehended by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) on February 6, 1976. Peltier was not armed at the time of his arrest.
–Peltier fought extradition to the United States, a decision that backfired when Bob Robideau and Darelle "Dino" Butler, AIM members also present on the Jumping Bull compound at the time of the shootings, were found not guilty on the grounds of self-defense by a federal jury in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. As Peltier fled to Canada and then fought extradition, he arrived too late to be tried with Robideau and Butler and was tried separately.
–At his trial in United States District Court for the District of North Dakota in Fargo, North Dakota, a jury convicted Peltier of the murders of Coler and Williams and the judge sentenced him in April 1977. After a series of appeals, the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals reaffirmed Peltier’s conviction in July 1993.
— Alleged trial irregularities
There has been debate over Peltier’s guilt and the fairness of his trial. Several allegations have been made by Peltier’s supporters which they claim point to his innocence, and all of these have been disputed by the FBI:
— * An FBI agent who testified that the agents followed a pickup truck onto the scene (a vehicle that could not be tied to Peltier) is alleged to have later changed his account to describe a red and white van, a vehicle type which Peltier did drive. Further, as the FBI did not record radio communications in 1975, there was an unresolved discrepancy between Agents as to whether Williams said he was pursuing a "red and white truck" or "pickup truck."
— * Three teenaged Native American witnesses testified they saw Peltier approach the slain officers’ vehicle, but they later alleged that the FBI had threatened and forced them to testify. The FBI answered that witnesses’ testimony was in any case not necessary for conviction.
–* An FBI ballistics expert testified that a shell casing found near the dead agents’ bodies matched the gun tied to Peltier. Critics argued that an FBI teletype stating the firing pin of the recovered weapon did not match the shell casings proved that Peltier’s weapon was not the murder weapon. It was counter-argued in testimony by the FBI that although the marks from the firing pin did not match those on the casing, the firing pin had probably been replaced after the murders, and that the marks made by the rifle’s extractor were an exact match to the recovered weapon.
— Murder conviction
Leonard Peltier was convicted and is currently incarcerated , serving two consecutive life sentences, for the murders of FBI Special Agents, Ronald A. Williams, 27, and Jack R. Coler, who were killed in a 1975 shoot-out on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation.
****Peltier has been in prison since February 6, 1976.****
–Peltier’s conviction sparked great controversy and has drawn criticism from a number of sources. Numerous appeals have been filed on his behalf; none of the rulings have been made in his favor.
— Post-trial debate and developments…. Leonard Peltier
Peltier is considered a political prisoner by some of his supporters and has received support from individuals and groups including Nelson Mandela, Rigoberta Menchú, Amnesty International, the U.N. High Commissioner on Human Rights, Tenzin Gyatso (the 14th Dalai Lama), the European Parliament, the Belgian Parliament, the Italian Parliament, the Kennedy Memorial Center for Human Rights, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Coretta Scott King, and the Rev. Jesse Jackson.
Peltier has been in prison since February 6, 1976.
~In the Spirit of Crazy Horse~