Louisiana insists on 3rd trial for alleged prison killer
Louisiana’s attorney general is insisting on a third trial for the last of the “Angola Three,” calling the prison activist who spent decades in solitary after the killing of a guard in 1972 “the most dangerous person on the planet.”
A federal judge ruled this week that Albert Woodfox must be freed immediately, saying the state has never proved — and never will — that he was responsible for the stabbing death of Brent Miller 43 years ago.
So what exactly does the state have on this armed robber who organized a Black Panther Party chapter to challenge the brutal conditions inside the sprawling Louisiana State Penitentiary?
Woodfox’s l ong- simmering story has been the subject of documentaries, Peabody Award winning journalism, United Nations human rights reviews and even a theatrical play. It’s a staggering tale of inconsistencies, witness recants, rigged jury pools, outof-control prison violence, racial prejudice and political intrigue.
And none of it has brought justice to Miller’s widow, Teenie Rogers, who did her own investigating and says there’s no evi- dence that Woodfox is guilty.
“I think it’s time the state stop acting like there is any evidence that Albert Woodfox killed Brent,” Rogers said Thursday.
Her statement was issued by a team of advocates for Woodfox, who came within hours of freedom this week before the U.S. 5th Circuit Court of Appeals stayed his release while deciding whether to accept the state’s appeal.
“I hope the Appeals Court cares about the evidence and cares about justice,” Rogers said. “The judge has already said this is over. Let it be over. For all of us.”
Her sweetheart’s death the morning of April 17, 1972, a Monday, remains one of the most notorious events in the long bloody history of the prison farm at Angola, Louisiana, called “America’s worst” as far back as 1952 by Collier’s magazine.
Prison officials said Woodfox was the instigator, grabbing Miller from behind while others stabbed him. But key aspects of the crime have remained mysterious ever since his body was found in an empty prison bunkhouse.
Tensions had been unusually high at the prison that year. Woodfox and others had been encouraging inmates to refuse to work. The day before, inmates tossed a gasoline can at a small wooden guardhouse, lighting it on fire. That guard narrowly escaped with burned hair. Prison authorities blamed Woodfox for that attack as well.
Miller left for work that day feeling apprehensive, his widow recalled. He entered the Pine 1 dormitory — a scene of unruliness days before — to get a cup of coffee from the “trusty,” a serial sex offender named Hezekiah Brown — and was attacked with a lawnmower blade and a handmade prison knife called a shiv.