Thursday, June 24, 2010

Mondo we Langa appeals 1971 COINTELPRO case to Eighth Circuit over new evidence

June 24, 2010 COINTELPRO Examiner Michael Richardson

Mondo we Langa (formerly David Rice) has filed an application with the
United States Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit seeking permission
for a hearing in U.S. District Court on new evidence. Mondo, a former
leader of the Omaha, Nebraska chapter of the Black Panthers called the
National Committee to Combat Fascism, is serving a life sentence for the
August 17, 1970 bombing murder of an Omaha policeman.

Mondo we Langa’s case is at the confluence of judicial activism by Chief
Justice Warren Burger and COINTELPRO abuses by J. Edgar Hoover, director
of the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Burger decided to use Mondo’s case
to roll back the “Warren Court” era and deprive prisoners of habeas corpus
protection in federal courts when state courts are available. Hoover had
targeted Mondo for counterintelligence actions and personally approved the
withholding of a FBI crime lab report on the 911 call that lured policeman
Larry Minard to his death to make a case against Mondo.

Mondo was implicated in the murder by the confessed 15 year-old killer,
Duane Peak who also claims to have made the 911 call, and by dynamite
supposedly found in Mondo’s basement. Steadfastly denying any involvement
in the crime, Mondo remains imprisoned four decades later.

The Eighth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals ordered a new trial for Mondo
back in the 1970’s over the search of his house but the Supreme Court
denied the order in a consolidated case, Stone v. Powell. Mondo’s case was
the immediate proof that Stone v. Powell was going to have lasting
negative implications for prisoners when his case was not heard on the
merits.

New scientific testing of the 911 tape revealed that it was not Duane Peak
who made the call as he testified, leaving an unknown killer at large. The
Nebraska Supreme Court ruled last year in the case of co-defendant Ed
Poindexter, also serving a life term, that the tape wasn’t critical
information for the jury. However, the voice of the killer is something
that just will not go away and is the subject, in part, of Mondo’s
petition for habeas corpus filed last week in U.S. District Court.

Mondo’s attorney, Timothy Ashford of Omaha, reveals some other new
information the 1971 jury also never knew.

“Several unusual events have occurred throughout the course of Mondo’s
proceedings that cast aspersion upon his jury verdict. First,
approximately one month before the explosion, one of the primary
investigative officers from the Omaha Police Department, Sgt. Jack
Swanson, stopped three black men in north Omaha and seized from the trunk
of their vehicle a case of DuPont Red Cross dynamite. All three men were
charged with felony possession of explosives, but each had their case
dismissed approximately one week after the jury found Mondo guilty in the
spring of 1971.”

“Coincidently, on August 22, 1970, Sgt. Jack Swanson claimed to have also
found a case of the exact same type of dynamite in the basement of Mondo’s
house.”

“Sgt. Jack Swanson testified at Mondo and co-defendant Poindexter’s trial
that he was the person who found the dynamite in the basement of Mondo’s
house. Sgt. Bill Pfeffer testified at Mondo’s trial that he never went
into Mondo’s basement where the dynamite was found.”

“Interestingly, Sgt. Bill Pfeffer was deposed in 2006 and stated under
oath that he was the person who found the dynamite in Mondo’s basement. He
later testified at co-defendant Poindexter’s post-conviction hearing in
2007 to the same thing. When confronted with the inconsistency in his
sworn testimony, Pfeffer became incredulous and extremely defensive.””

“Mondo cannot prove that Omaha Police Department officers planted the
dynamite found in Mondo’s basement, but the circumstantial coincidence of
these events lends credence to Mondo’s actual innocence on the first
degree murder charge.”

“Mondo’s case also occurred during the racial turmoil of the late 1960s
and the early 1970s. Specifically, the FBI had instituted its COINTELPRO
program designed to create internal fractures in the political groups it
had targeted. History teaches that the Black Panther movement was targeted
by the FBI in this program, including fringe groups associated with the
Black Panthers.”

“Furthermore, Mondo was the victim of racial hatred by OPD which included
him being called numerous racial epithets by law enforcement and being
repeatedly harassed by members of OPD.”

Mondo we Langa and Ed Poindexter have come to be known as the Omaha Two
and are both imprisoned in the maximum-security Nebraska State
Penitentiary.

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