Louisiana can try 'Angola 3' inmate a third time for murder, court rules

Reuters News
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Posted: Nov 09, 2015 8:02 PM

(Reuters) - A federal appeals court ruled on Monday that Louisiana can try the last of the "Angola Three" inmates a third time for the 1972 murder of a prison guard and keep him in jail.

The 2-1 decision by the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals reversed a June lower court ruling. Albert Woodfox is the last of three black inmates who gained notoriety for their long stays in isolation at the Louisiana State Penitentiary in Angola.

The appellate court ruled that U.S. District Judge James Brady abused his discretion by barring Woodfox's retrial, and that the circumstances were not sufficient to merit this "extraordinary remedy."

Woodfox, who is in his late 60s, is believed to have spent more time in solitary confinement than nearly any other prisoner in U.S. penal history. Woodfox and a co-defendant, Herman Wallace, maintained their innocence in the slaying of a white prison guard, Brent Miller.

Wallace won his freedom in October 2013 but died of liver cancer three days after being freed. A third Angola Three inmate, Robert King, was accused of killing a fellow inmate. He was released from prison in 2001.

The three men said they were targeted for joining the Black Panther Party and advocating for prison reforms.

(Reporting by Mary Wisniewski in Chicago; Editing by Sandra Maler and Peter Cooney)