The following timeline is from a June 26, 2000, article, “The ‘Spirit of Crazy Horse' is still caged, After 25 years, debate continues: Is Peltier a murderer or a martyr?” by Forum reporter Patrick Springer. Events during the past 18 years have been added.
Sept. 12, 1944: Leonard Peltier is born in Grand Forks, N.D., and spends much of his youth on the Turtle Mountain Indian Reservation in North Dakota. He drops out of school at age 14 to work as a migrant farmer and construction worker. He joins the American Indian Movement, AIM, in 1970.
Nov. 22, 1972: Peltier is accused of aiming a handgun and twice trying to fire at an off-duty police officer during an altercation at a restaurant in Milwaukee. Five years later, Peltier is acquitted of attempted murder.
June 26, 1975: Two FBI agents trying to serve a felony warrant are shot and killed in a gun battle at the Jumping Bull ranch near Oglala, S.D., on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation. The incident comes two years after the armed occupation of the village of Wounded Knee by AIM activists, during a time of high tension and violence on the reservation. Peltier, who allegedly believed the agents came to arrest him, emerges as an early suspect in the murders.
Sept. 10, 1975: A car carrying AIM members explodes on the Kansas turnpike near Wichita. Police find weapons in the car, including the AR-15 assault rifle later identified by the FBI as the gun used to kill the two FBI agents.
Mid-November 1975: Peltier narrowly escapes arrest in Oregon by fleeing into woods during an exchange of gunfire with a state trooper who had stopped the RV Peltier and AIM leader Dennis Banks were driving. Police agent Coler's handgun, taken from his body, was in a bag containing Peltier's fingerprint.
Nov. 25, 1975: Peltier and three other men are indicted for the murder of FBI agents Ron Williams and Jack Coler.
Feb. 6, 1976: Peltier is arrested in Canada and held for extradition hearings on the murder charges. Later he is sent to the United States, partly on testimony from a woman named Myrtle Poor Bear who later recants and claims she was coerced by the FBI.
Summer 1976: Dino Butler and Bob Robideau, the two other suspects tried for the murders, are acquitted in U.S. District Court in Cedar Rapids, Iowa.
April 18, 1977: An all-white jury finds Peltier guilty of the murders in U.S. District Court in Fargo. District Judge Paul Benson later sentences Peltier to two consecutive life terms.
March 1983: Peter Matthiessen's book, "In the Spirit of Crazy Horse," is published, giving a sympathetic portrayal of Peltier. Critics attack the book as one-sided, but it calls worldwide attention to the case and inspires documentary and feature films.
October 1984: During a post-trial hearing in Bismarck, N.D., documents and testimony from an FBI ballistics expert established that evidence casting doubts on whether a shell casing found at the scene could be linked to the AR-15 rifle.
Sept. 11, 1986: Appeals judges deny Peltier's motion for a new trial. The judges find that prosecutors withheld ballistics evidence favorable to Peltier's defense. Although the defense's cross-examination was hampered, the panel concludes that the jury still would have convicted Peltier. Later appeals ultimately fail.
April 18, 1991: Gerald Heaney, one of the appeals judges who upheld Peltier's conviction, writes a letter to Senate committee in which he admits that no new evidence has surfaced to change his opinion. However, he urges Peltier's release, citing "improper tactics" in Peltier's extradition, among other reasons.
April 27, 1999: Amnesty International calls for Peltier's release, calling evidence against him "far from conclusive" and noting that "numerous appeals have failed to dispel substantial and lingering doubts about the fairness of the legal proceedings."
Oct. 10, 1999: In a CNN interview, Peltier admits for the first time that he saw from "a distance" the bodies of the slain agents lying near their car after the gun battle. In earlier interviews, Peltier admitted shooting at the agents, but repeatedly has denied killing them.
Oct. 15, 1999: Canada's justice minister says a review found Peltier's 1976 extradition was proper, a conclusion denounced by some other Canadian officials.
June 12, 2000: Peltier's latest parole request is denied. The FBI remains strongly opposed to his release from prison. He is held at a federal prison in Rochester, Minn., where he had jaw surgery in March.
December 2000: Approximately 500 active and retired FBI agents and employee march against the possibility of President Bill Clinton commuting the life sentence of Peltier.
January 2001: President Bill Clinton leaves office without granting clemency.
2002: Peltier files a civil rights lawsuit.
2004: Lawsuit is dismissed.
January 2009: President George W. Bush denies clemency petition.
August 2009: Peltier is denied parole and will not be eligible for parole again until 2024.
Feb 17, 2016: Peltier’s attorney files for clemency with President Barack Obama.
Jan. 18, 2017: Obama denies clemency two days before leaving office.
November 2017: Peltier has triple bypass heart surgery in Florida where he remains imprisoned at a federal correctional complex in Coleman.
Feb. 6, 2018: Peltier provides a statement to family, friends and supporters commemorating his 43rd year in prison.
March 15, 2018: Peltier’s attorney sends a letter to President Donald Trump asking to discuss the case and Peltier’s bid for freedom.
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