Leonard Peltier, Convicted of Murdering 2 FBI Agents in 1975, Faces ‘Last Chance’ Parole Hearing

Activists gathered at the White House in December 2023 to call for the release of Leonard Peltier. Photo: Shutterstock

By Steve Neavling

Leonard Peltier may not get another chance like this again. 

The 79-year-old Lakota tribe member, who has insisted he is innocent of murdering two FBI agents in 1975, is set for a full parole hearing Monday for the first time in 15 years, NBC reports

Given his age, he might not get another shot at freedom.

Peltier is “in good spirits” as the hearing approaches at the Federal Correctional Complex Coleman in Florida.  

“He wants to go home and he recognizes this is probably his last chance,” attorney Kevin Sharp said. “But he feels good about presenting the best case he can.”

Human rights and faith leaders, along with 33 members of Congress, have called for his release in the past. 

In a statement Friday, FBI Director Christopher Wray said the bureau “remains resolute” in opposing Peltier’s release, pointing out that appeals have been denied and Peltier escaped from a California prison in 1979 before getting captured three days later. 

“We must never forget or put aside that Peltier intentionally murdered these two young men and has never expressed remorse for his ruthless actions,” Wray said.

Peltier, an Indigenous rights activist, has been in prison since 1977. 

An all-white jury convicted Peltier of murdering the two agents on South Dakota’s Pine Ridge Indian Reservation. He was sentenced to two consecutive life sentences.

Three others were charged in connection with the agents’ deaths. Two of them were acquitted after claiming self-defense, and charges were dropped against the third. 

Peltier was sentenced separately in Fargo, N.D., in 1977. 

Since then, several witnesses in the trial have recanted their statements. 

In 2021, tribal members sent a petition to Biden, asking for compassionate release or clemency. 

In January 2017, then-President Obama turned down a similar request for clemency

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