'Angola 3' inmate Albert Woodfox released after more than 40 years in prison
ST. FRANCISVILLE, LA (WAFB) - One of the men suspected of killing an Angola prison guard decades ago pleaded no contest to lesser charges Friday morning and was ordered to be released from prison.
Albert Woodfox, 69, entered a no contest plea to manslaughter and aggravated burglary. The judge ordered his immediate release.
Woodfox is one of the men dubbed, "The Angola Three." He just turned 69 on Friday, February 19.
Officials said Angola prison guard Brent Miller was murdered in 1972. Woodfox and two other men were placed in solitary confinement that same year after being charged. They remained in solitary confinement more than 40 years.
Woodfox is the only one of the three still in prison. He was twice convicted of murder in the guard's death. Higher courts later overturned both convictions.
Then, in February 2015, a grand jury indicted Woodfox a third time. He was moved from Angola to the West Feliciana Parish Jail to await another trial.
However, Federal Judge James Brady made a rare move and intervened in June 2015, ordering Woodfox's immediate release and barring the trial. In Brady's ruling, he pointed to several issues, including Woodfox's failing health and his belief that the state could not provide a fair trial.
Former Louisiana Attorney General Buddy Caldwell filed an emergency motion the following day to prevent Woodfox's release. Caldwell also filed an appeal to Brady's ruling.
Jeff Landry, the current Louisiana Attorney General, released a statement Friday saying that he and his team of prosecutors believe that, due to the circumstances surrounding the case, the plea is in "The best interest of justice."
As he was leaving Angola to his new-found freedom, Woodfox told reporters that he is "Just resigned to adjust to being free." When asked how being free feels after 40 years behind bars, he said that he hasn't decided yet.
"I need to go say goodbye to my mother," said Woodfox when asked what he was going to do after his release. "I wasn't allowed to go to her funeral when I was in Angola."
The full statement from Attorney General Landry is below.
Attorney General Jeff Landry issued the following statement on today's plea by Albert Woodfox:
"After more than four decades, the Attorney General's Office has brought finality to the matter of State of Louisiana versus Albert Woodfox.
I would like to thank the family of Brent Miller for their courage and cooperation. Their support has been instrumental in today's very difficult decision.
After carefully considering all of the facts and circumstances surrounding this case and its procedural history, as it stands today – our team of prosecutors believes this plea is in the best interest of justice.
It is clear that the Federal District Court has signaled its intention to force Albert Woodfox's release without any admission of guilt. In the best interest of justice and with the recognition of 42 years of hard labor served, we achieved a conviction waving his right to appeal.
Today's plea brings closure to the family of Brent Miller, justice for the people of Louisiana, and finality to this decades-long prosecution.
Albert Woodfox, by his own plea, stands convicted of the homicide of Brent Miller. In accordance with that plea, he was sentenced to 42 years of incarceration and given credit for time served. Additionally, he waived his rights to appeal this sentence."
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