[Ppnews] Ruling delayed on Albert Woodfox' release request

Political Prisoner News ppnews at freedomarchives.org
Wed Oct 15 10:57:39 EDT 2008

Ruling delayed on inmate's release request

Angola prisoner, 61, in bad health
    * By 
<http://www.2theadvocate.com/news/mailto:jminton@theadvocate.com>JAMES MINTON
    * Advocate Baker - Zachary bureau
    * Published: Oct 15, 2008 - Page: 4B - UPDATED: 12:05 a.m.

Attorneys for Angola inmate Albert Woodfox argued Tuesday that the 
61-year-old suspect in a prison security guard's 1972 death should be 
allowed to live with his niece's family in a gated Slidell community 
pending further developments in his case.

Woodfox suffers from high blood pressure, diabetes and renal disease, 
and would be irreparably harmed if not released on bail, attorney 
Nick Trenticosta told U.S. District Judge James J. Brady, who did not 
immediately rule on the request.

Trenticosta said Woodfox's medical condition was aggravated by more 
than 30 years of solitary confinement he and two other Angola inmates 
endured until their move to a less restrictive setting earlier this year.

Trenticosta said Woodfox is not a flight risk but is willing to abide 
by any conditions of bail the court would set, including home 
incarceration or electronic monitoring.

Woodfox, who was affiliated with the Black Panther movement, was 
convicted of murder in 1973 and again in 1998 in the April 1972 
stabbing death of Angola security officer Brent Miller during a 
period of unrest in the state's largest prison.

Both convictions were overturned, with Brady reversing the 1998 
conviction and life sentence last month.

The state, through Attorney General James "Buddy" Caldwell's office, 
is appealing Brady's ruling and is asking the judge to stay his order 
that the state either retry Woodfox within 120 days or dismiss the charge.

Assistant Attorney General Dana Cummings argued against Woodfox's 
release, telling Brady the former New Orleans resident had been 
convicted of aggravated battery, armed robbery and aggravated escape 
before he was twice convicted of murder.

Brady noted, however, that both of the murder convictions have been 
overturned and asked Cummings how the state would be "irreparably 
injured" if Woodfox goes free before the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of 
Appeals renders a decision.

"If he goes out and kills one of our witnesses, we're irreparably 
injured," Cummings replied, briefly drawing low murmurs from Woodfox 
supporters in the audience.

Cummings also argued that Woodfox is a flight risk.

"He has every interest to flee: we're going to try him again," 
Cummings told the judge.

Brady agreed to delay his ruling to allow the attorneys to take 
testimony from Angola Warden Burl Cain and a San Francisco physician 
who gave a report on Woodfox's medical conditions.

Trenticosta, paraphrasing Cain's testimony about Woodfox in a 
separate federal case, said Woodfox "could almost be considered a 
model prisoner," but Cummings said she wanted to be able to 
cross-examine the warden.

Rheneisha Robertson, a nonprofit health organization director and 
wife of former professional football player Bernard Robertson, told 
the court Woodfox, her uncle, could live with her family in the Oak 
Harbor area of Slidell.

Trenticosta said Woodfox would be living in a stable environment. 
"There's no riff-raff in that community," he said.

Michael Mable, Woodfox's brother and Rheneisha Robertson's father, 
said he has visited him once a month since he was sent to Angola, 
finding that the prisoner has grown more compassionate during the 
course of 30 years. "He's an old man, and I love him," Mable said.

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