Lawyers for ‘Angola Three’ member to argue against 3rd trial
New Orleans — The last member of the Angola Three still in prison was set to appear in a Louisiana court Monday for a hearing on various motions ahead of his third trial for allegedly killing a prison guard.
Lawyers for Albert Woodfox are pushing for his indictment in the 1972 death to be thrown out, the trial to be moved to a new location and for key witness testimony to be barred as well as other motions. The state is arguing that the trial should go forward.
Woodfox is the last imprisoned member of a group called the “Angola Three,” which was made famous by their extended stays in solitary confinement at the Louisiana Penitentiary at Angola and other state prisons. He’s consistently maintained his innocence in the death of prison guard Brent Miller. Woodfox is currently being held at the West Feliciana Parish Detention Center awaiting his third trial.
The state disputes the solitary confinement description saying 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.
Woodfox’s lawyers are pushing to quash the indictment, arguing that he cannot get a fair trial after so much time has passed and key witnesses have passed away. They also want the trial to be moved, arguing that he can’t get a fair trial in an area where so many residents work at Angola.
But the state argues that many of the reasons Woodfox’s team puts forward to quash the indictment should be argued at trial instead and that Woodfox’s public relations campaign actually unfairly prejudices jurors against the state’s case.
The state pushed for a new trial in Miller’s death earlier this year after two previous convictions were overturned. But 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 state fought the decision and the 5th Circuit ruled to keep Woodfox jailed during the appeal. The 5th Circuit has yet to rule on whether Woodfox can be tried a third time but in the meantime, the state is pushing forward. No trial date has been set.
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