La. AG not letting up on last of 'Angola Three'
Attorney General Buddy Caldwell said Wednesday that he is convinced Albert Woodfox is guilty
By Brian Slodysko
BATON ROUGE, La. — Louisiana's attorney general is showing no signs of backing off his effort to retry the last imprisoned member of the "Angola Three."
Attorney General Buddy Caldwell said Wednesday that he is convinced Albert Woodfox is guilty of the 1972 slaying of Louisiana State Penitentiary prison guard Brent Miller.
"The driving force behind me is guilt — guilt, guilt, guilt," Caldwell said, offering his first expansive remarks about the case since a federal judge ordered Woodfox's release this month and barred a retrial.
Woodfox is being held at the West Feliciana Parish Detention Center pending the outcome of an appeal Caldwell filed with the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals, seeking to overturn U.S. District Judge James Brady's ruling.
Caldwell said If he didn't believe Woodfox were guilty, he would "go let him out of jail myself."
But in his ruling, Brady said Woodfox's guilt would be hard to determine were a third trial granted. Woodfox's previous two convictions were overturned for reasons including racial bias in selecting a grand jury foreman and juror misconduct. And Brady noted that 43 years have passed since the crime, key witnesses have died and there is no physical evidence linking him to the crime.
Caldwell disputed that conclusion Wednesday and indicated he filed the appeal because he believes there is strong evidence against Woodfox.
There is "direct eyewitness testimony of him committing this murder" from three or four people, Caldwell said.
Woodfox, 68, and two other prisoners became known as the "Angola Three" for their decades-long stays in isolation at the Louisiana State Penitentiary at Angola, as well as other state prisons.
Activists seeking Woodfox's release did not immediately respond to a request for comment Wednesday afternoon.
Woodfox, who was serving time for armed robbery and assault, was convicted of Miller's murder after inmatesidentified him as the one who grabbed the guard from behind while others stabbed him with a lawnmower blade and a hand-sharpened prison knife.
But the star witness, a serial rapist who left death row and was pardoned by the Louisiana governor after his testimony, died before the second trial, and couldn't be cross-examined about whether his testimony was induced by favorable treatment.