Imprisoned by Injustice, Judge Refuses to Release Last of 'Angola Three'

Despite a federal court order to end the 43-year confinement of Albert Woodfox, the last remaining prisoner of the “Angola 3” will have to stand trial for a third time after a District judge on Monday denied a motion to dismiss the case.

Woodfox, who has maintained his innocence in the 1972 killing of Angola prison guard Brent Miller, spent 43 years in solitary confinement in a case that has garnered international condemnation.

Though the charges against him were dropped twice—once in 1992 and again last year—and despite U.S. District Judge James Brady granting him “unconditional release” last June, the state of Louisiana has doggedly pursued Woodfox’s prosecution. 

Jasmine Heiss, senior campaigner for Amnesty International USA’s Individuals at Risk program, attended the hearing and issued the following statement on the court decision: 

Now, pending federal intervention, Woodfox will again be forced to stand trial in West Feliciana Parish where he was twice convicted, despite the defense’s request to change the venue. State District Judge William Carmichael on Monday also denied the defense’s motion to exclude testimony from deceased witnesses on the basis that they could not be cross examined.

Carmichael did rule, however, that Woodfox’s attorneys would for the first time be able to perform DNA testing and compare Woodfox’s fingerprints to those found at the crime scene.

Meanwhile, the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals is still weighing the state’s appeal of Brady’s ruling.

Supporters maintain that Woodfox, along with fellow inmates, Herman Wallace and Robert King, were wrongfully implicated and punished. King, who was held solitary confinement for 29 years until his release in 2001, continues to advocate for Woodfox’s release. After 40 years of solitary confinement, Wallace was released from prison on October 1, 2013, at age 71. He died the next day.

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