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Court hears arguments on re-trial of 'Angola 3' member Woodfox

Jan. 7, 2014 at 6:08 PM   |   Comments

NEW ORLEANS, Jan. 7 (UPI) -- Judges in New Orleans Tuesday addressed the case of "Angola 3" member Albert Woodfox and whether racial discrimination tainted his 1993 re-indictment.

A three-judge panel of the U.S. Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals heard oral arguments regarding whether Woodfox deserves a second retrial in the 1972 murder of prison guard Brent Miller in Angola State Prison.

The panel did not indicate when a ruling would be made, but Woodfox's attorneys said the court could take anywhere between one and four months to come to a decision.

During the oral arguments, a plaintiff's attorney argued Woodfox, who is black, was re-indicted and retried unfairly because black forepersons, jury members chosen to speak on behalf of juries, were underrepresented on grand juries in during the era in question. State attorneys countered by claiming plaintiff statistics were flawed and amounted to "a new invisible equal protection standard," the (New Orleans) Times-Picayune reported.

Woodfox was initially convicted of the crime in 1974, as were Robert Hillary King and Herman Wallace. His conviction was overturned in 1992, and Woodfox was retried and convicted again in 1998. That conviction was overturned in 2008, the judge citing ineffective counsel.

The state appealed that ruling, which was reversed by the court of appeals.

King accepted a plea deal in 2001 and was released after spending 29 years in jail. Wallace was released in 2013 after 42 years imprisonment after his conviction was overturned. He died of liver cancer three days later.

Woodfox has spent 42 years in closed-cell restriction, a practice the United Nations identified as unacceptable under international law, the newspaper said.

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