One of the state prisoners known as the “Angola Three” has won another round in court as he fights charges arising from the 1972 stabbing death of a prison guard.
Albert Woodfox’s conviction in that death had been overturned by a federal district judge. That judge’s decision was upheld in November by a unanimous three-judge panel of the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. In an order dated Tuesday, the appeals court refused a state request for another hearing on the issue.
The conviction was thrown out because Woodfox’s 1993 indictment was tainted by racial discrimination in the grand jury foreman selection process.
Woodfox and two other state prisoners became known as the Angola Three due to their long stretches in solitary confinement at the Louisiana State Penitentiary in Angola.
Other members of the Angola Three were prisoners Robert King and Herman Wallace. Woodfox and Wallace had said they were singled out for harsh treatment, including isolation, because of their political activism.
Wallace, convicted with Woodfox of murder in the death of guard Brent Miller, died last fall only days after a judge freed him and granted him a new trial. King was released in 2001 after his conviction in the death of a fellow inmate in 1973 was reversed.
Woodfox has long maintained his innocence in Miller’s death.
Attorney General Buddy Caldwell did not specify the state’s next move Wednesday.
“While we are disappointed in the denial of a rehearing, this in no way changes the fact that two juries have found that inmate Albert Woodfox undeniably murdered Corrections Officer Brent Miller in 1972,” Caldwell said in an emailed statement. “We will continue to fight to ensure that he is held fully accountable for his actions.”
Jasmine Heiss, of Amnesty International USA, said Wednesday the state should give up prosecution of Woodfox, who turns 68 on Feb. 19.
She said Caldwell should stop pursuing expensive appeals in the case. She also called on Gov. Bobby Jindal to get involved.
“We’d like him to ask the attorney general to stop wasting the state’s resources,” Heiss said. Jindal’s office did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Woodfox is being held at Louisiana’s Wade Correctional Center, where, his lawyers say, officials have begun carrying out body cavity searches up to six times a day, despite his being in isolation most of the time. His attorneys are working in state court to end the searches.