On this date, February 12, 1991, Leonard Peltier, who was wrongfully convicted in connection with the shooting deaths of two FBI agents in the 1970s on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation, was denied a new trial by a federal judge in Kansas.
A version of this article appeared in print on February 13, 1991, on page A18 of the New York Times.
February 13, 1991
Indian Leader Denied New Trial in Slayings
TOPEKA, Kan., Feb. 12— A Federal district judge today denied a new trial for Leonard Peltier, a former leader of the American Indian Movement who has been imprisoned 15 years in the slayings of two Federal agents at the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota.
Mr. Peltier, who is serving consecutive life sentences, had told the judge at a hearing last week that the Federal Bureau of Investigation had so intimidated another Federal judge, who presided at the Peltier trial in North Dakota in 1977, that the proceedings had been unfair. He also testified that new evidence would show the gun he was charged with using could not have fired the shots.
With those arguments, Judge Richard Rogers was asked to take over the case, since Mr. Peltier is serving his sentences at the Leavenworth Federal penitentiary in Kansas. But today Judge Rogers instead granted the Government's motion to send arguments over the new evidence back to the judge in North Dakota, Paul Benson.
In his ruling, Judge Rogers noted that Peltier's lawyers had twice sought to get Judge Benson disqualified in the case. "In sum," he wrote, "the court finds no indication of any personal bias on the part of the trial judge."