A federal appeals court on Monday said Louisiana could continue plans to try Angola 3 member Albert Woodfox for a third time in the 1972 murder of a prison guard.
Woodfox, along with Herman Wallace and Robert King, was accused of killing corrections officer Brent Miller. Miller was found stabbed to death in the Louisiana State Penitentiary at Angola. King, who spent time in the prison for another murder, was released in 2001. Wallace died in 2013. Woodfox, convicted once in 1973 and again in 1998, according to The Advocate, is the last incarcerated Angola 3 member.
Woodfox’s first conviction was overturned because he had ineffective counsel. The second time, Woodfox, who is black, demonstrated among other factors that black jurors were underrepresented in the grand jury, given their share of the overall population.
All three spent decades in solitary confinement. Woodfox was originally serving time in the prison for armed robbery and assault before the killing. For years, he has maintained his innocence, though inmates identified him and the two other Angola members as suspects in the stabbing.
Monday’s 2-1 decision reverses an order by District Judge James Brady that called for both the immediate release of Woodfox and the barring of a third trial that would come 40 years after the killing, CBS reports.
The 5th Circuit disagreed, saying Brady had abused his discretion. Woodfox has consistently maintained his innocence in the death of prison guard Brent Miller.
State officials dispute the solitary confinement description. They say that while in prison, Woodfox was able to talk to other inmates, have visitors, watch television through the bars of his cell and leave the cell daily for an hour.
A spokesman for the attorney general told The Advocate that pre-trial motions are already in the works.
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