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Judge orders release of inmate convicted 40 years ago of killing guard

BATON ROUGE, La., Oct. 1 (UPI) -- A federal judge Tuesday ordered Louisiana to free an inmate who spent four decades in solitary after being convicted of killing a guard at Angola Prison.

Herman Wallace, 71, was diagnosed with liver cancer in June, The (New Orleans) Times-Picayune reported.

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U.S. District Judge Brian Jackson ruled Wallace did not receive a fair trial because women were excluded from the jury that found him guilty of the murder of Brent Miller, a white corrections officer. Wallace and Albert Woodfox, who was also convicted, have denied the killing for more than 40 years, saying they were framed because they founded a chapter of the Black Panthers at Angola.

Baton Rouge District Attorney Hillar Moore said his office is appealing Jackson's ruling. He said the judge will be asked to stay his order for release.

The inmates charged with killing Miller became known as the "Angola 3." The third prisoner eventually became a prosecution witness.

Wallace was recently moved to the prison hospital at the Elayn Hunt Correctional Center in St. Gabriel. He recently told an interviewer he has been told he has only weeks to live.

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"Tragically, this step toward justice has come as Herman is dying from cancer with only days or hours left to live," said Steven Hawkins, executive director of Amnesty International. "No ruling can erase the cruel, inhuman and degrading prison conditions he endured for more than 41 years."

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