Edward Poindexter and Wopashitwe Mondo Eyen we Langa (David Rice) were convicted and sentenced to life in prison in 1971 for the murder of Omaha Police Officer Larry Minard who died when a suitcase dynamite bomb exploded in a vacant house in North Omaha on August 17, 1970. Officer John Tess was injured in the explosion. According to an unpublished 1970 article written by radio journalist Michael Amdor (who would go on to become a lawyer and a judge) the police immediately assumed the Omaha Black Panthers (called the National Committee to Combat Fascism) were responsible for the bombing. Police wanted to raid their headquarters hours after the blast, but were dissuaded because there was no probable cause to accuse the NCCF.
A 15-year old boy named Duane Peak became the prime suspect because he was seen carrying a suitcase around North Omaha for six hours on the Sunday before the bombing. He was too young to be a member of the NCCF but was allowed to attend classes and sell newspapers. Poindexter banned him from the NCCF three times in 1970 for fighting, using drugs and immature behavior. On August 16, Peak's sister drove him with his suitcase to the neighborhood where the bomb exploded. Peak's entire family was charged in the first-degree murder of a police officer because they took car rides with Duane that afternoon and evening while he was carrying a suitcase.
After three days in custody, Peak gave a deposition to the County Attorney claiming that Poindexter made a bomb in Mondo's kitchen and told the teenager Peak to carry it to the vacant house and call 911 to lure police to the house. Peak testified that the suitcase had a triggering device made out of a clothespin held open by a wedge of wood. Forensic science (and common sense) forgo the possibility that Peak carried a bomb with a clothespin triggering device for six hours (and took it into three vehicles) without causing an explosion. After the convictions of Poindexter and Mondo, Peak was charged with juvenile delinquency and eventually sent to Montana to serve his sentence. His family members testified at the trial. Accessory to first degree murder charges against them were dropped.
ATF agent Tom Sledge, who had been an Omaha Police officer for eight years, personally transported Poindexter's clothes and dynamite samples to the ATF lab in Washington. A chemist testified at the trial that lumps of dynamite visible to the naked eye were found in his jacket pocket, but no traces were found on the outside of his clothing or on his hands. Thirty years after the trial, FBI whistleblower Fred Whitehurst stated that dynamite does not "fall" out of a stick of dynamite into someone's pockets suggesting that dynamite was planted in Poindexter's pocket. The case was not appealed on the basis of planted dynamite evidence.
Incredibly, the 911 call that lured police to the vacant house was never played at the trial. Even more unbelievable, the three defense attorneys never listened to it, though they made discovery requests which should have included the 911 tape. Omaha Police asked the FBI to do voice analysis on the 911 call, but they cancelled the request because Assistant Chief of Police Glenn Gates felt the tape was "prejudicial" to the case against Peak, Poindexter and Rice (Mondo). Lt. James Perry destroyed the original reel-to-reel tape during the appeals process in 1978, stating in a deposition that the trial was over as far as he was concerned.
In 1980, a copy of the 911 call surfaced in the police emergency center. It was not the voice of Peak, Poindexter or Mondo. The identity of the person who made the 911 call has never been determined. In 2006-- 26 years after the tape was discovered-- voiceanalysis of the tape was ordered by an appellate court confirming that it was not the voice of Duane Peak who testified that he made the call. The Nebraska Supreme Court did not grant a new trial on this evidence of perjury. In 2010, the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals refused to allow Poindexter to file an appeal in federal court on the voice analysis because the 1996 Effective Death Penalty and Anti-Terrorism Act allows judges to deny prisoners the right to file habeas corpus appeals. There is no appeal from their denial.
After being shut out of court on the voiceanalysis in 2010, Poindexter filed a pro se brief claiming that he was unfairly denied parole. The Nebraska Supreme Court dismissed his appeal.
In post conviction appeals in the 1970s, Poindexter's codefendant Mondo challenged the illegal search of his home. A federal judge ordered that Mondo be retried or released. His appeal was affirmed by the 8th Circuit. It was a companion case to U.S. Supreme Court case Stone v. Powell in 1976. Though the search of Mondo's house was, in fact, illegal he was denied a retrial because the Supreme Court decided that illegal search and seizure claims should be heard in state court, not federal court. His trial attorney claimed that because of Stone v. Powell, Mondo was held in prison in violation of the Constitution for 46 years until his death.
Prior to the Douglas County prosecution, Poindexter and Mondo were targeted by the FBI’s COINTELPRO (Counter Intelligence Program), which operated against and infiltrated anti-war and civil rights groups, including the Omaha Black Panthers or NCCF. Because of the decision Stone v. Powell, Amnesty International included Mondo in an investigation of possible U.S. political prisoners which was reported by the Washington Post. Amnesty issued a statement that Mondo did not get a fair trial and should be retried. In spite of vigorous appeals by his post-conviction counsel in the 1980s, Mondo was never granted an opportunity to prove his innocence in court after Stone v. Powell.
Poindexter applied to have his case taken up by the Midwest Innocence Project in 2017. His application was put on a waitlist.
Life in Prison
Ed transferred to prison in Minnesota in 1979 to further his education. He was sent back to Nebraska in 2006.
In the 1990s, Nebraska's Parole Board recommended Ed's codefendant Mondo for a commutation of sentence due to his exceptional conduct, accomplishments and recommendations. The Pardons Board-- Nebraska's Governor, Attorney General and Secretary of State-- granted Mondo a hearing but his attorney walked out because he felt the hearing was a sham. Ed was denied a hearing when he applied to the Pardons Board for a commutation of sentence.
Mondo died in prison of Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease on March 11, 2016, after being incarcerated from age 23 to 69, asserting his innocence for 46 years.
Ed has diabetes and receives dialysis six days a week. He underwent triple bypass heart surgery in 2016. After several falls, he chooses to use a wheelchair. He has a cataract in one eye that makes it difficult for him to read. If you would like to write him a letter, it must be typed with 18 point or larger font. The Nebraska Department of Corrections does not plan to allow him to have surgery because "he has one good eye."
ACCOMPLISHMENTS OF ED POINDEXTER
U. S. Army Veteran stationed in both Germany and Vietnam.
Associate of Arts degree from Southeast Community College, Lincoln Nebraska
Bachelor of Arts degree in Human Services from Metro State University, St. Paul, Minnesota.
Substantial work toward an M.A. from Goddard Graduate Program in Monpelier, Vermont.
Held positions of leadership in the Art Club, 111 Jaycees (president), and Harambee African Cultural Organization while at the Nebraska State Penitentiary.
Received the Antoniak Award for the Insight Program, Inc. for outstanding academic achievement in Minnesota.
Assisted in creating the production Shakedown Blues, a musical drama.
Wrote "Esteem Quest," an educational, motivational progam to reduce recidivism.
Published two booklets, The Youth Survival Guides, which are motivational booklets for at-risk and troubled youths.
Author of screenplays, including "Talons" a sci-fi thriller.
Received permission from the Minnesota Correctional System to form a small business to publish and sell The Youth Survival Guides.
Recorded Jammer from the Slammer, a rap tape promoting constructive problem-solving and self-motivation guides to complement The Youth Survival Guides.
Participated in Minnesota's "Turn Off the Violence" Campaign by helping to organize the campaign and also performing rap numbers.
Requested to be the operator of the Juvenile Detention Bed Hotline Information Message Program.
Taught a class at the Minnesota Correctional System on building self-esteem. This class is a part of the "Stop the Revolving Door Program," a pre-release program for inmates with less than a year remaining inside the institution.
Taught a men's health class, including AIDS education.
Co-facilitated the teaching of four classes: The History of Intolerance in America, Eyes on the Prize; The History of the Civil Rights Movement in America; Black History Month Subjects; and Music Education. (Ed plays guitar and saxophone.)
Developed a program for prisoners to discuss problems of men who batter women to promote an understanding of negative behavior patterns and encourage attitudinal and behavior changes.
Videotaped and edited several motivational tapes.
Presented a proposal to the administration of the Minnesota Correctional System to open an audio recording studio in the Recreation Department.
Selected media about the case:
2020 - 2021 NOISEomaha.com series, "Forgotten Panthers," by Kietryn Zychal and NOISE staff. https://www.noiseomaha.com/omahas-forgotten-panthers-series
2016 Buzzfeed article by Elena Carter. https://www.buzzfeednews.com/article/e6carter/the-omaha-two
2018 book by Michael Richardson. https://northomahahistory.com/?s=framed
2014 video short by Kietryn Zychal. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3dX-cxlRF5Y