[Ppnews] Herman Wallace, Terminally ill Angola 3 member shouldn't be released from prison, magistrate judge says
Political Prisoner News
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Thu Sep 19 10:35:57 EDT 2013
Terminally ill Angola 3 member shouldn't be released from prison,
magistrate judge says
By Lauren McGaughy, NOLA.com | The Times Picayune
September 18, 2013 at 7:22 PM
A federal magistrate judge in Louisiana recommended Friday that Herman
Wallace, a terminally ill inmate
and member of "The Angola Three
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
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
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
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
Freedom Archives 522 Valencia Street San Francisco, CA 94110 415
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