- Associated Press - Thursday, February 12, 2015

NEW ORLEANS (AP) - Months after a federal appeals court upheld the overturning of his last conviction, a prisoner known as one of Louisiana’s “Angola Three” has been charged anew by a state grand jury in the 1972 death of a guard.

A grand jury in West Feliciana Parish returned an indictment Thursday charging Albert Woodfox with murder in the stabbing death of Brent Miller, said Louisiana Attorney General Buddy Caldwell.

A panel of the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in November upheld a lower court’s decision to throw out Woodfox’s last conviction in Miller’s death, a ruling based on racial discrimination in the grand jury selection process in 1993. A 1973 conviction also had been thrown out.

Caldwell says Woodfox had a violent record including arrests for rape and robbery when Miller was killed, and that evidence of Woodfox’s guilt is “undeniable.” Woodfox has long maintained that he was framed for Miller’s death. His attorneys have noted that Woodfox was never convicted of rape and have said the rape accusation is one of numerous misrepresentations made by prosecutors as they have fought efforts to grant him bail.

“We are extremely disappointed in today’s indictment of Albert Woodfox who has maintained his innocence since he was charged 42 years ago,” George Kendall, an attorney for Woodfox, said in an emailed statement. “This case has already spanned four decades and cost Louisiana millions of dollars, while Mr. Woodfox has been unjustly held in solitary confinement.”

Woodfox, who turns 68 next week, and two others became known as the Angola Three as human-rights groups took up their cause due to their long stretches in solitary confinement at Louisiana’s maximum-security prison in Angola.

Other members of the Angola Three were prisoners Robert King and Herman Wallace. Woodfox and Wallace had said they were singled out for harsh treatment, including isolation, because of their political activism.

Wallace, convicted with Woodfox of murder in Miller’s death, died last fall only days after a judge freed him and granted him a new trial. King was released in 2001 after his conviction in the death of a fellow inmate in 1973 was reversed.

The new indictment comes less than two weeks after the 5th Circuit refused to reconsider its November decision. Woodfox’s lawyers last week filed a petition in federal court seeking his release.

Woodfox now is being held at Louisiana’s Wade Correctional Center, where, his lawyers say, officials have begun carrying out body cavity searches up to six times a day, despite his being in isolation most of the time. His attorneys are working in state court to end the searches.

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