- Associated Press - Wednesday, December 2, 2015

BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) - The last incarcerated member of the “Angola Three” is taking his case to the U.S. Supreme Court after a federal appeals court recently ruled he can be tried a third time in the 1972 slaying of a prison guard.

One of Alfred Woodfox’s attorneys, George Kendall, said Tuesday he plans to file a request to the nation’s high court to hear the case, The Advocate reports (https://bit.ly/1lXosBo).

The 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled 2-1 on Nov. 9 to reverse a previous judge’s order that had barred a third trial and called for Woodfox’s immediate release.

Woodfox, 68, and two others were dubbed the “Angola Three” for their decades-long stays in isolation at the Louisiana Penitentiary at Angola and other state prisons.

He was twice convicted in the 1972 stabbing death of Brent Miller, a guard at the Louisiana State Penitentiary at Angola. Both convictions, in 1973 and 1998, were thrown out, first due to Woodfox’s ineffective counsel and the next time because of racial disparities in the grand jury.

In June, Judge James Brady barred a third trial for Woodfox, ruling that it would be impossible to guarantee a fair trial given that 43 years have passed, key witnesses have died and there is no physical evidence linking Woodfox to the crime.

“The American trial assumes that a certain number of critical witnesses are going to show up at the courthouse, raise their right hands, testify and be subject to cross-examination,” Kendall said. “That can’t happen in this case.”

Woodfox has become a lightning rod in the controversy surrounding solitary confinement, a practice opponents say is a form of unconstitutional punishment.

State officials have previously challenged the description of Woodfox’s imprisonment as solitary confinement, citing his access to television and ability to converse with other inmates despite being allowed to leave his cell for only one hour a day.


Information from: The Advocate, https://theadvocate.com

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