Leonard Peltier Up for Parole (for Murder of 2 FBI Agents in 1975--American Indian Movement)

Two other Native American men (Robert Robideau and Dino Butler) who fired at the agents were tried in 1976 and found not guilty by reason of self-defense. Peltier fled to Canada before the trial. He was eventually extradited back to the US and tried separately in 1977, when he was found guilty.

If the others were not guilty by reason of self-defense, it is likely that Peltier was also not guilty for the same reason.

Any thoughts?

That’s fair to say since one reason was a lack of conclusive evidence about some crucial details. Still, guilty or not guilty are the result of trials and circumstances. If it was a simple matter one could argue the other two men were just as guilty as Peltier, but it’s not simple.

From FBI director Christopher Wray:

Peltier was convicted of the brutal murder of FBI Special Agents Jack Coler and Ronald Williams at South Dakota’s Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in 1975. We must never forget or put aside that Peltier intentionally murdered these two young men and has never expressed remorse for his ruthless actions.

Over the past 45 years, no fewer than 22 federal judges have evaluated the evidence and considered Peltier’s legal arguments, with each reaching the same conclusion: Peltier’s claims are meritless, and his convictions and sentence must stand. In addition, Peltier’s crimes include a post-conviction escape from federal custody, during which he and his crew fired shots at prison employees.

Granting parole for Peltier would only serve to diminish the brutality of his crime and further the suffering of the surviving families of agents Coler and Williams, as well as the larger FBI family.

I say let him die there.

Not necessarily. The juries heard the evidence for all three defendants. One could just as easily say they other two should have been convicted.

There were two people with Peltier during the shooting, Stuntz and Charles. Stuntz died in the shootout. Charles doesn’t seem to have ever been charged with anything - I’d assume because none of his bullets hit anyone and/or because he helped the FBI in the case, in some way.

The other two people who were arrested were not a part of the initial shootout, so I’m not sure that looking at them would tell you much about how Peltier would have been treated.

Peltier got a request for lenience put in with Barack Obama and was denied.

In general, it seems likely that he started the shootout; it looks like he tried to lie to make it seem like he wasn’t present at the shootout; he fled the country to try and avoid the consequences of the shootout; he was already on the run for a different murder at the time; Peltier tried to escape from jail, so that he wouldn’t have to live with the consequences of his actions; and he doesn’t seem to have ever admitted that he did it, apologized, nor reformed since then.

Native Americans are, almost certainly, the most disadvantaged people in the country on average - or were, the last I checked. But murder is murder and that’s what Peltier is in jail for. If he was honest about it, he’d probably have been out a long time ago.

More from Wray:

The facts of Peltier’s crimes are well-established and beyond dispute. On June 26, 1975, Special Agents Jack R. Coler and Ronald A. Williams were searching for a fugitive when Peltier and others mowed them down in a barrage of gunfire.3 Peltier’s group fired more than a hundred rounds, compared to the five the two outnumbered agents were able to fire in return.4 After the onslaught, Peltier approached the wounded young men and brutally executed them at close range.5

Peltier shot Special Agent Coler twice in the head as he lay on the ground unconscious.6 Special Agent Williams was on his knees, unable to stand, when Peltier shot him in the face through an outstretched hand.7 The fatal shots were fired from a high-velocity, small-caliber firearm. Eyewitnesses placed the murder weapon in Peltier’s hands,8 and a .223-caliber cartridge retrieved from the trunk of one of the agent’s cars was later linked ballistically to Peltier’s AR-15.9

Ray is incorrect. He may believe the facts are only those things well established and beyond dispute, but it is a fact that some evidence is not well established or beyond dispute.

That there’s no teapot floating around in space, somewhere between Earth and Mars is not well established and could be disputed. But the standard of evidence for crimes is the question of whether such objections are reasonable?

Like what?

The government claims Peltier deliberately and intentionally shot both agents after they were wounded in a gun fight. They tried to tie him to that through an a casing from an AR-15 with his fingerprints on it but there were several AR-15s at the scene and there is no conclusive proof that casing came from the gun he was holding. The details of the entire gunfight are open to question from who fired first to who fired last.

I don’t have an opinion on the trials and outcomes at all, don’t know enough to come to a conclusion. Given the time frame and two dead FBI agents I think the governments case and the trials are subject to question though.

So Trump-appointed FBI Director Chris Wray thinks he should stay in prison.

The people who have called for his release include Nelson Mandela, Desmond Tutu, Pope Francis, the Dalai Lama, Mother Teresa, Amnesty International, his former prosecutor, the UN High Commissioner on Human Rights, and the European Parliament. Cite.

Gee, it’s just really hard to decide who to trust here. :roll_eyes:

Is he the only one? You make it seem that way. I don’t think that’s accurate.

ETA: I did some searching around and found a bit more info.

The FBI Agents Association, a professional group that represents mostly active agents, sent a letter to the parole commission opposing parole. The group said any early release of Peltier would be a “cruel act of betrayal.”

But some groups, like the Fraternal Order of Police, said Obama “made the right call” in denying clemency for Peltier.

As mentioned before, Obama declined to grant clemency. There is a request in front of Biden to do so, maybe he will.

I haven’t taken a side on this at this point, but it doesn’t seem fair to try to paint this as one person appointed by Trump versus a bunch of other people.

It’s fair to say that those asking for him to serve his sentence are law enforcement who have a tendency to try to protect their own, I haven’t been able to find anyone else in a (very) brief search advocating against clemency.

I’m sure others think so too, but Wray seems to be the biggest name arguing against clemency. I assume basically every GOP politician thinks so, too. AFAIK there are no Nobel Peace Prize winners or international human rights organizations on that side of the argument.

Nevermind, redundant of previous posts.

Well, I checked his Wikipedia article,
which I can’t quote for some reason, and all the cites in the relevant section (“Inconsistencies in the Prosecution’s Case”) are to very left-wing sources, so I’m not going to take this as gospel, but there’s clearly a case to be made that the trial was unfair.

It’s possible there are valid rebuttals to the charges made in that article, but looking at the list of people and organizations endorsing the claim that the trial wasn’t fair, I tend to think there probably aren’t.

I also learned from that article that he’s the second most famous American (behind Gene Debs) to ever run for President while incarcerated. So far…

Trying to find documentation, related to the case, I get the distinct impression that the US government is trying to shield access to case files that would identify people who provided information against Peltier (which information ended up not being included in the trial).

That seems to give some sense that the current US government feels like they need to protect people from Peltier.

I also note that the documents that have been posted by the pro-Peltier side seems incomplete. They start from document 29.

So did Clinton, back when there was a movement in 1999/2000.

I’ve been watching the Louisiana Parole Board hearings after someone linked their Youtube channel a short time back. In those, they issue their decision basically immediately. That doesn’t seem to be the case for Peltier’s parole hearing yesterday (or I can’t find the outcome anyway.)

Any idea how long it takes for federal parole decisions?

OK, I found a “mainstream” cite from msn.com.

Relevant portions:

His trial has remained controversial due to discrepancies in the prosecution. Specifically, advocates for his release have pointed to the prosecution’s eyewitness Myrtle Poor Bear, who testified that she was Peltier’s girlfriend at the time of the shooting and witnessed him kill both agents. Poor Bear later recanted her testimony, which she said was coerced by the FBI, and said she did not know Peltier.

A federal appeals court in 1978, while upholding the conviction, called the use of affidavits from Poor Bear to extradite Peltier “a clear abuse of the investigative process.”

Peltier has maintained his innocence throughout his incarceration, and his attorneys have emphasized both his age, 79, and numerous health conditions, including diabetes, hypertension and a partial stroke that cost him his vision in one eye.

Advocates for his parole or release have included Pope Francis, Amnesty International, and the late Mother Teresa and Coretta Scott King, as well as current Sens. Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii), Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii), Edward Markey (D-Mass.), Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), Tina Smith (D-Minn.), Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), and Peter Welch (D-Vt.).

Despite the FBI’s consistent opposition to his parole, however, both Gerald Heaney, the judge who presided over Peltier’s trial and U.S. Attorney James Reynolds, whose office handled the prosecution, have eventually called for his release.

I stand by my assertion that, just looking at the people arguing each side, you’d have to be a credulous cop-lover of 2014-Smapti caliber to believe he deserves to be in prison.


Don’t take swipes at other posters in MPSIMS. Save that stuff for the Pit and don’t do this again.