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Alibi witness for Mondo we Langa still says innocent 43 years after trial

Rae Ann Schmitz, alibi witness for Mondo we Langa (formerly David Rice) in his 1971 trial for the murder of an Omaha, Nebraska policeman, recently gave an interview and still maintains that Mondo is not guilty. Mondo was convicted with Edward Poindexter for a bomb ambush in a controversial trial where evidence was withheld by the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Both men were Black Panther leaders and targets of a FBI conspiracy under the clandestine COINTELPRO counterintelligence operation.

Alibi witness Rae Ann Schimitz still says Mondo we Langa is innocent
Rae Ann Schitz/Kietryn Zychal

Schmitz, a retired attorney, was a first-year student at Creighton Law School when she testified as an alibi witness. Defense attorney David Herzog failed to prepare her for trial, meeting briefly with her in a courthouse hallway, and Schmitz thought she was being called as a character witness.

Schmitz testified that Mondo was at a party at her house from 8 p.m. the night before the fatal bombing until sometime after 2:30 a.m. when the party started to break up, placing him nowhere near the crime scene at the time of the blast and anonymous call that lured police to a vacant house.

What Herzog failed to notice was that Schmitz also provided Mondo an alibi for the time he allegedly allowed Duane Peak into his home to pick up the suitcase bomb. Rae Ann Schmitz says that Mondo was with her and that was “just one more lie that Duane Peak told.”

At trial, Schmitz testified that she was with Mondo at Memorial Park for the afternoon from about 1:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. before she drove him to Kountze Park arriving just before 5:00 p.m. when she dropped Mondo off.

Duane Peak testified that he met with Mondo we Langa at Mondo’s house that afternoon to pick up the bomb but neither prosecutors nor defense attorneys established a time frame for the supposed rendezvous. However, in a sworn pre-trial deposition several days after his arrest, Peak said that he met Mondo at 4:00 p.m. at the headquarters of the National Committee to Combat Fascism, Omaha’s Black Panther affiliate chapter, and then they proceeded separately to Mondo’s house arriving sometime later.

Because of the defense failure to establish a time-frame for Peak’s testimony, the jury never realized that Schmitz contradicted Peak’s claim and provided not only an alibi for the 911 call to police but also an alibi for the bomb pick-up hours earlier.

The 911 call was the subject of Director J. Edgar Hoover’s order to FBI Laboratory chief Ivan Willard Conrad to withhold a report on a recording of the caller’s voice. The tape had been sent to the FBI Laboratory to identify the caller, however, the investigation was not a search for truth. Hoover wanted the two Panther leaders convicted of the crime and did not seek the identity of the actual caller.

Mondo we Langa and his co-defendant, Ed Poindexter, were convicted for the murder of Patrolman Larry Minard, Sr. and remain imprisoned at the maximum-security Nebraska State Penitentiary. Both men continue to deny any role in the bombing. The case is under international review and is expected to be on the agenda for the United Nations Human Rights Committee next spring when United States compliance with a 1966 anti-racism treaty will be examined.

Rae Ann Schmitz continues to insist that Mondo we Langa is innocent. Mondo has a pending appeal before the Nebraska Supreme Court. No date has been set for a decision.