Thursday, July 26, 2012

Judge here rejects bid for FBI documents in 1975 slayings of two agents

Indian activist convicted in case loses
By Phil Fairbanks

News Staff Reporter Buffalo News
July 25, 2012

A federal judge has rejected Leonard Peltier's request for FBI documents about the man he was with when he was arrested in the killing of two agents in South Dakota in 1975.

After examining the documents, U.S. Magistrate Judge Jeremiah J. McCarthy ruled that they do not fall within the guidelines of what Peltier's lawyer had asked for as part of his lawsuit against the government.

Michael Kuzma, a Buffalo lawyer and member of Peltier's legal defense team, was seeking 900-plus pages of documents, once kept in Buffalo, related to a man Peltier was with at the time of his arrest.
"We're still going to press and push for the release of all documents related to the shadowy figure who used the name Frank Blackhorse," Kuzma said this week.

When Peltier was arrested in connection with the killing of FBI agents Jack R. Coler and Ronald A. Williams, Blackhorse was with him, but Blackhorse, whose real name was Frank DeLuca, was never charged and decades later remains a free man.

Peltier wants to know why.

"He's a mystery man," Peter A. Reese, a lawyer who is representing Kuzma in his efforts to get the Buffalo-related documents, said of Blackhorse. "It's pretty obvious this guy was an employee or informant of the FBI."

Kuzma said he has already filed new Freedom of Information requests about Blackhorse and Curtis A. Fitzgerald, the former FBI agent Blackhorse was accused of shooting at Wounded Knee, S.D., two years earlier.

Now 67, Peltier, an American Indian Movement leader in the 1970s, has maintained his innocence, and supporters have tried to get his 1977 murder conviction overturned.

As part of that effort, Kuzma asked McCarthy to release FBI documents he believes may help vindicate Peltier.

Even now, nearly 40 years later, the killings of Coler and Williams are a source of great passion among current and former agents. When Peltier came up for parole in 2009, the FBI was among those who pushed hard to keep him in prison. He is serving two life terms at the federal penitentiary in Coleman, Fla.

The FBI declined to comment on the judge's ruling.

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