The Los Angeles Times reviews the 1972 murder of guard Brent Miller at Angola state prison in Louisiana. He was stabbed 32 times and left in a prison dormitory in a pool of blood. Herman Wallace and Albert Woodfox, Black Panthers from New Orleans who were serving time for armed robberies, were convicted of Miller’s murder. The men spent more than 35 years in what their supporters call solitary confinement before finally being moved to a regular prison dormitory in March.
Miller’s widow, Teenie Verrett, moved on with her life, remarrying and raising a family. Then 2 1/2 years ago, Billie Mizell, a legal investigator and fledgling author, showed up at Verrett’s home to talk about Miller’s murder. What Mizell told Verrett stunned her. A bloody fingerprint found at the scene did not match Woodfox or Wallace. There was never any physical evidence linking them to the crime. Mizell said the star witness against Woodfox and Wallace, a sex offender serving a life sentence, was promised freedom for his testimony — a deal that the prosecution never disclosed to the defense. Verrett was skeptical. But the Times says eventually came to a troubling realization: Maybe the militants, who had become an international cause celebre among liberal activists and human rights groups, were innocent.