The wife of a Louisiana prison guard killed in 1972 wants one of his accused killers — incarcerated for 43 years despite his conviction being overturned twice — to be released.
In a statement to BuzzFeed News on Thursday, Leontine "Teenie" Rogers said there is no evidence tying Albert Woodfox, now 68, to the death of her late husband, who was 23 when he was fatally stabbed at Louisiana State Penitentiary — commonly referred to as Angola, the town where it's located.
Woodfox was ordered released from prison on Monday, but remains incarcerated after an appellate court extended an order blocking his release on Friday.
"I remain stunned that I am still forced to relive the worst thing that ever happened to me every year," Rogers said in the statement. "I wish the state of Louisiana would stop spending all this money paying lawyers to keep Albert in prison for even longer than the 43 years he has already been there."
The three men convicted of killing him came to be known as the Angola 3. The other two — Robert King and Herman Wallace — were released in 2001 and 2013, respectively. Wallace died shortly after his release pending a new trial. King's conviction was overturned.
Woodfox has twice been tried for the death of Brent Miller, and each time his conviction has been overturned. Still, he had remained incarcerated, spending decades in solitary confinement and becoming a cause célèbre for activists seeking his release. That goal appeared to have been realized on Monday, when the federal judge in Baton Rouge not only ordered Woodfox be unconditionally released, but took the additional measure of preventing prosecutors from attempting a third trial.
Louisiana Attorney General Buddy Caldwell, however, successfully secured a emergency order from an appellate court temporarily blocking Woodfox's release. The court extended the order on Friday.
In her letter, Rogers blasted the state for spending so many resources on keeping Woodfox in prison. Instead, she said, prosecutors "should have used some of my taxpayer money to find out who left a fingerprint in Brent's blood at the crime scene, because it wasn't Albert Woodfox, and it wasn't Herman Wallace, and it certainly wasn't Robert King."
Read Rogers' full statement below:
I remain stunned that I am still forced to relive the worst thing that ever happened to me every year. I wish the state of Louisiana would stop spending all this money paying lawyers to keep Albert in prison for even longer than the 43 years he has already been there. If it were up to me, those resources would be spent on victim services.
I also wish they would have used some of my taxpayer money to find out who left a fingerprint in Brent's blood at the crime scene, because it wasn't Albert Woodfox, and it wasn't Herman Wallace, and it certainly wasn't Robert King.
Governor Jindal shook my hand many years ago and I asked him to look into how this was allowed to happen, but I guess I'll never know. But I think it's time the state stop acting like there is any evidence that Albert Woodfox killed Brent.
I guess some people will believe what they want to believe no matter what the evidence says. Most of those people have never looked at the evidence like I have, and they just want to talk about what kind of people they think these men were and everything BUT the evidence in THIS crime.
I understand. I used to feel the same way.
But after a lot of years looking at the evidence and soul-searching and praying, I realized I could no longer just believe what I was told to believe by a state that did not take care of Brent when he was working at Angola and did not take care of me when he was killed. The state offered a legally blind man as an eye-witness. Please think about what really happened here before you cast judgement on Albert, or on me.
Please care about the evidence and about real justice. Loving Brent doesn't mean we have to ignore the truth and the evidence.
I hope the Appeals Court cares about the evidence and cares about justice. The judge has already said this is over. Let it be over. For all of us.
— Leontine "Teenie" Rogers
Jason Wells is deputy news director for BuzzFeed News and is based in Los Angeles.
Contact Jason Wells at email@example.com.
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