BATON ROUGE, La. -- Aggravated rape and armed robbery charges dating
back four decades could be used to keep a former Black Panther in
jail if a judge orders his pretrial release on a murder charge, the
state attorney general says.
Albert Woodfox, 61, was convicted of the 1972 stabbing death of a
guard. He is one of the inmates known the "Angola Three." The three
spent decades in solitary confinement at the Louisiana State
Penitentiary at Angola.
U.S. District Judge James Brady overturned the conviction in
September, ruling that Woodfox's defense attorneys provided
ineffective counsel during a retrial in 1998. Louisiana Attorney
General James "Buddy" Caldwell has asked the 5th U.S. Circuit Court
of Appeals to overturn the federal judge's decision.
Caldwell said Friday he will pursue six aggravated rape cases and six
counts of armed robbery from 1967 and 1969 in Orleans Parish if Brady
releases Woodfox prior to a retrial on the murder charge.
"If we let him out, we probably will never see him again," Caldwell
said. "We have said he should not be released because he's dangerous."
Nicholas Trenticosta, a New Orleans attorney for Woodfox, disputed
"It's a lie," Trenticosta said. "It's a flat-out lie. He has never
been charged with six counts of rape."
Caldwell said the charges exist and speculated that they were not
prosecuted because Woodfox was sentenced to a 50-year prison term for
armed robbery in 1969. Woodfox then escaped from custody in Orleans
Parish, taking a jailer hostage, Caldwell said.
In 1971, Woodfox was arrested in New York for an armed robbery in
that state, Caldwell said. Woodfox then was returned to Louisiana to
begin his 50-year term.
Another attorney for Woodfox, Christopher Aberle, said Friday that he
does not believe Caldwell will be allowed to prosecute any charges
from the 1960s.
Woodfox, Herman Wallace and Robert King were the "Angola Three."
Wallace and Woodfox were convicted in the guard's killing. King,
convicted of killing a fellow inmate in 1973, was released in 2001
after his conviction was reversed. Wallace, who is still imprisoned,
has a state appeal pending.
Woodfox's attorneys say the convictions were based largely on
statements from a rapist who was promised help getting a pardon if he
testified against Woodfox and Miller.
Woodfox and Wallace said they were targeted because they helped
establish a prison chapter of the Black Panther Party. Wallace and
Woodfox were in isolation cells from 1972 until this past March.