[Pnews] Judge in 'Angola Three' case rejects move to toss 3rd indictment for guard's death, move trial

Prisoner News ppnews at freedomarchives.org
Mon Sep 21 16:30:50 EDT 2015


  Judge in 'Angola Three' case rejects move to toss 3rd indictment for
  guard's death, move trial

September 21, 2015 — 12:25pm

ST. FRANCISVILLE, La. — A judge on Monday rejected defense efforts to 
exclude key witness testimony against the last remaining Angola Three 
member still behind bars and to throw out his indictment entirely in the 
1972 killing of a prison guard.

Judge William Carmichael also ruled that the trial against Albert 
Woodfox could go forward in West Feliciana parish, rejecting defense 
claims that he could not get a fair trial in a place where Louisiana's 
Angola prison is also located.

Woodfox is the last member of a group often referred to as the "Angola 
Three," for their extended stays in the Louisiana State Penitentiary at 
Angola as well as other prisons. The decades-long case has gained 
international attention and highlighted the use of solitary confinement 
in American prisons.

Woodfox has consistently maintained his innocence in the death of prison 
guard Brent Miller. He is being held at the West Feliciana Parish 
Detention Center awaiting his third trial.

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.

Prosecutors pushed for a new trial in Miller's death earlier this year 
after two previous convictions were overturned. The case was thrown into 
turmoil in June when U.S. District Judge James Brady in Baton Rouge 
ordered Woodfox's "immediate" release and took the extraordinary step of 
barring a third trial for Woodfox in Miller's death.

The 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals has yet to rule on whether Woodfox 
can be tried a third time, but in the meantime, the state is pushing 
forward and Woodfox remains behind bars.

The judge did not set a trial date, but ruled on several defense and 
prosecution motions.

Carmichael rejected efforts by Woodfox to throw out the indictment 
entirely. His lawyers had argued that Woodfox could not get a fair trial 
because so much time has passed since the crime and key witnesses have died.

Woodfox appeared during the hearing wearing a black and white striped 
jail uniform, his hands and feet shackled. He wore glasses and much of 
the 68-year-old's hair, mustache and beard were tinged with gray. When 
he got up to leave, he smiled and waved to his brothers and supporters 
in the courtroom before shuffling out.

Tory Pegram, an activist supporting Woodfox, called the developments 
"disappointing" although she said she still believes Woodfox will be 
proven innocent. Woodfox's three brothers also attended the hearing.

"I think it was a mockery of justice," said Michael Mable. He said he 
visits Woodfox monthly.

Woodfox was serving time for armed robbery and assault when he was 
convicted of Miller's murder. Inmates identified him as the one who 
grabbed the guard from behind while others stabbed him with a lawnmower 
blade and a hand-sharpened prison knife.

But the star witness, a serial rapist who left death row and was 
pardoned by the Louisiana governor after his testimony, died before the 
second trial. His testimony can still be read to jurors in the upcoming 
trial, the judge ruled Monday. Woodfox's lawyers had wanted it kept out 
because jurors would not be able to see him being confronted about 
evidence they say suggests his testimony came in return for preferential 

The judge did rule that any verdict must be unanimous — something 
Woodfox's team wanted — and that Woodfox's legal team must have access 
to prison fingerprint cards from 1972, which they could then compare to 
bloody fingerprints found at the crime scene.

The judge also ordered the state to look for any and all evidence that 
may contain DNA so that the defense can test it.

Freedom Archives 522 Valencia Street San Francisco, CA 94110 415 
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