Convict dies after 50 years in prison for a crime he didn’t commit

Ed Poindexter, who spent 50 years in prison for a crime he said he did commit, died in prison Thursday.

Poindexter, who was 79, died following a lengthy battle with diabetes. 

He and his friend David Rice were convicted in the 1970 booby-trap bombing of Omaha Police Officer Larry Minard by a mostly all-white jury that included one Black person.

The two were members of the Black Panther Party, and both were targets of COINTELPRO (Counter Intelligence Program), which undermined activists. 

Many claimed that Duane Peak, the star witness, planted the suitcase bomb and lied to avoid prison.

Neither Rice’s nor Poindexter’s fingerprints were found on the dynamite alleged to have been found in Rice’s house.

During post-conviction hearings, officers were not clear as to the exact location of the dynamite in Rice’s basement and changed testimony as to which officer found it. 

Accusations have been made that the dynamite was planted, suspicions which ex-Omaha police officer Marvin McClarty even held. Shortly after Rice’s conviction, his house burned to the ground. This eliminated any possibility of exploring the accuracy of police testimony about the dynamite.

Both Rice and Poindexter had alibis for the night of the bombing, and those who knew of their whereabouts that night testified for the defense. 

Poindexter went to a movie with a girl named Linda Walker, who was the daughter of a New York City police officer. They were together when they heard the blast. 

Rice was at a party from 8 p.m. to 4 a.m. at Rae Ann Schmitz’s house. She testified as a first-year law student and eventually joined his legal defense team.