[Ppnews] Herman Wallace, Terminally ill Angola 3 member shouldn't be released from prison, magistrate judge says

Political Prisoner News ppnews at freedomarchives.org
Thu Sep 19 10:35:57 EDT 2013


  <http://connect.nola.com/user/lmcgaughy/index.html>


  Terminally ill Angola 3 member shouldn't be released from prison,
  magistrate judge says

By Lauren McGaughy, NOLA.com | The Times Picayune 
<http://connect.nola.com/user/lmcgaughy/posts.html>
September 18, 2013 at 7:22 PM
http://www.nola.com/politics/index.ssf/2013/09/angola_three_wallace_release_d.html

A federal magistrate judge in Louisiana recommended Friday that Herman 
Wallace, a terminally ill inmate 
<http://www.nola.com/politics/index.ssf/2013/09/angola_3_prison_herman_wallace.html> 
and member of "The Angola Three 
<http://www.nola.com/crime/index.ssf/2011/04/angola_3_project_puts_local_re.html>," 
should not have his case revisited.

Wallace had previously filed a writ of habeas corpus petition, which 
said he did not receive a fair trial in the 1972 murder of Angola 
<http://topics.nola.com/tag/angola/index.html> prison guard Brent Miller 
and was therefore being held illegally by the state. Since his 
conviction for the murder, he's spent 41 years behind bars, all of them 
in solitary confinement.

But U.S. Magistrate Judge Stephen Riedlinger disagreed, issuing an 
opinion Friday that recommended the federal district judge deny the writ 
and ensure Wallace remain incarcerated.

Herman Wallace, 71, has been living with advanced liver cancer at Elayn 
Hunt Correctional Facility since his diagnosis in June 2013.

Nick Trenticosta, Wallace's lawyer, expressed disappointment with the 
opinion and said the system was fixed to ensure barriers between an 
inmate and his possible release are nearly impossible surpass.

"We are shocked that the Magistrate Judge failed to appreciate the rank 
unfairness of Mr. Wallace's trial. Mr. Wallace is absolutely innocent of 
the murder," Trenticosta said Wednesday.

"We will be challenging the magistrate's recommendation to (U.S. 
District Court) Judge (Brian A.) Jackson, and are confident we will 
prevail."

In the writ, Trenticosta said Wallace failed to receive a fair trial in 
1972 due to an all-white, all-male jury and the withholding of key 
evidence by prosecutors. The key witness against Wallace in the trial, 
another inmate, was also promised concessions in exchange for his 
testimony, the writ said.

Trenticosta, who is based in New Orleans and has also acted as counsel 
for the other members of the Angola Three, said the next step is to 
lodge their complaints with the opinion with Judge Jackson and hope he 
issues a favorable ruling in response.

As the judge hearing the writ petition, Jackson also has the ability to 
approve Wallace's release on bail. But time is an especially important 
factor in his case, said Trenticosta, due to Wallace's medical condition.

"I don't know how long he's going to make it," Trenticosta said. "It may 
be another month, it may be another week."

In a letter sent to his supporters last month, Wallace confirmed 
<http://www.nola.com/politics/index.ssf/2013/09/angola_3_prison_herman_wallace.html> 
he had been diagnosed with liver cancer and was told he had about two 
months to live. He had also been released from solitary confinement and 
now lives in the prison's hospital wing in a private room.

The move is a small, but important, change for Wallace, who has spent 41 
years in solitary confinement in Louisiana's prisons. Wallace and 
Woodfox, both implicated in Miller's savage stabbing murder in 1972, 
both insist on their innocence and say their conviction came solely as a 
result of their involvement with the Black Panther movement.

Both men had been key in forming the first local chapter of the Black 
Panthers at Louisiana State Penitentiary, or Angola, and advocating 
against the culture of violence and rape pervasive there at the time.

After the murder and their convictions, they were placed in solitary. A 
third inmate, Robert King Wilkerson, was later tangentially tied to the 
murder even though he was not an inmate an Angola at the time. He was 
also placed in solitary confinement.

Together they came to be known as "The Angola Three" after a fellow 
Black Panther member was the first to discover their decades in 
isolation in the late 1990s. King was released with the help of inmate 
rights activists in 2001 after 29 years.

Woodfox remains in solitary to this day and is currently seeking a 
restraining order 
<http://www.nola.com/crime/baton-rouge/index.ssf/2013/09/angola_3_strip_cavity_search_r.html>against 
the state for daily strip and cavity searches he undergoes at David Wade 
Correctional Center in Homer.

/Lauren McGaughy <http://connect.nola.com/user/lmcgaughy/posts.html> is 
a state politics reporter based in Baton Rouge. She can be reached at 
lmcgaughy at nola.com or on Twitter at @lmcgaughy 
<https://twitter.com/lmcgaughy>./

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