BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) -- A federal judge on Tuesday overturned the conviction of a former Black Panther in the 1972 stabbing death of a Louisiana prison guard.
Albert Woodfox, who was held in solitary confinement for over 30 years, is one of three former Panthers known as the "Angola Three." He and two other black prisoners at the Louisiana State Penitentiary at Angola were convicted in the killing of guard Brent Miller on April 17, 1972.
U.S. District Judge James Brady issued a ruling late Tuesday approving a federal magistrate's June recommendation that Woodfox's conviction be overturned because one of his former lawyers failed to object to a prosecutor's testimony about a witness' credibility. Brady also found that Woodfox's trial lawyer failed to object to testimony from a witness who had died after the trial.
Woodfox's decades in solitary confinement attracted worldwide attention from activists who called him a political prisoner.
Nick Trenticosta, the New Orleans-based defense lawyer who handled the appeal, said Woodfox's immediate future lies in the hands of prosecutors, who could request a new trial. Trenticosta said he hoped Woodfox to be released without another trial.
"The man was convicted on false evidence, and he's been held in solitary for almost 40 years. Let's release him," Trenticosta said.
Rocky Mountain News