Amnesty International joins Woodfox family in rally on Capitol steps
“Each time I look at the evidence in this case, I remember there is no proof that the men charged with Brent’s death are the ones who actually killed him. It’s easy to get caught up in vengeance and anger, but when I look at the facts, they just do not add up.” Teenie Rogers, widow
The widow of a Louisiana prison guard joined more than 25,000 other people Monday in asking Gov. Bobby Jindal to release her husband’s convicted killer from solitary confinement.
Teenie Rogers was a teenager when she married Louisiana State Penitentiary guard Brent Miller.
Within months of the wedding, she was a widow. She said Monday through spokeswoman Billie Mizell that the state never had a strong murder case against inmates Albert Woodfox and Herman Wallace in Miller’s death.
During the 1970s, Woodfox and Wallace — who were serving 50-year sentences for armed robbery — were convicted of second-degree murder in the stabbing death of Miller.
Together with inmate Robert King, Woodfox and Wallace were dubbed the Angola 3 for spending decades in solitary confinement. Wallace died Oct. 4 within days of a judge ordering his release from prison on the grounds that he did not receive a fair trial. King left prison in 2001. Only Woodfox, who is now in his 60s, remains behind bars.
“Each time I look at the evidence in this case, I remember there is no proof that the men charged with Brent’s death are the ones who actually killed him. It’s easy to get caught up in vengeance and anger, but when I look at the facts, they just do not add up,” Rogers said in comments dictated to Mizell. Rogers would not agree to a direct interview.
Amnesty International delivered a petition containing Rogers’ signature and more than 25,000 others “throughout the U.S. and globally” to the State Capitol on Monday.
The human rights organization wants Jindal to release Woodfox on the basis that he was convicted on the weight of questionable testimony. Courts have overturned his conviction three times.
Rogers said she signed Amnesty’s petition after the state reindicted Wallace on his deathbed.
“That’s not anything I want to be a part of, and I don’t think it is something Brent would have done. If the state had a strong case, I might feel differently. But I have not seen anything yet that proves to me these men murdered Brent,” Rogers said.
Earlier this month, Miller’s brother criticized Wallace’s release, saying he should have died in prison.
With Wallace’s death from liver cancer, Woodfox is Amnesty International’s sole focus in the Angola 3 case. U.S. District Judge James J. Brady ruled in February that Woodfox must be tried a third time for Miller’s murder. Brady agreed Woodfox’s most recent indictment was tainted by discrimination in the grand jury foreman selection process. State Attorney General Buddy Caldwell immediately announced plans to appeal the reversal of Woodfox’s conviction.
Pam Laborde, spokeswoman for the Louisiana Department of Corrections, said Monday that Woodfox is in closed-cell restriction at David Wade Correctional Center near Homer.
She said CCR inmates generally can receive visitors, exercise, watch television, borrow materials from the prison library and buy things from the canteen.
Laborde declined to comment on why Woodfox is in closed cell restriction, saying he has “pending civil and criminal cases and therefore the department cannot comment further.”
Jindal’s office referred questions about Amnesty’s petition to Caldwell’s office, which declined to comment because of the pending appeal.
Amnesty spread calendar pages on the State Capitol steps Monday as an illustration of the number of days Woodfox has spent in solitary confinement. Rain splattered the pages during a noon rally for Woodfox.
Woodfox’s brother, Michael Mable, told a small crowd that he visited with Woodfox on Saturday. He read a statement written by Woodfox describing 41 years in solitary confinement. Woodfox said he lives his life in a 6x9 cell, where he spends 23 hours a day.
“On good days, I am allowed at most, one hour of exercise in a cage outside. The pain and suffering this isolation causes goes beyond this mere description. To be honest I am not sure what damage has been done to me, but I do know that the feeling of pain allows me to know that I am alive,” Woodfox wrote.