Herman Wallace, one of the "Angola 3" inmates who spent more than 40 years in solitary confinement for the killing of a guard, has been freed after his conviction was overturned.
U.S. District Judge Brian Jackson in Baton Rouge, La., said Tuesday that Wallace had not received a fair trial.
The Associated Press says that Jackson "had also ordered a new trial because women were unconstitutionally excluded from the grand jury that indicted Wallace in the guard's death. And, he ordered him immediately released."
Wallace, who became a member of the Black Panther Party while in prison, was serving a 50-year sentence for armed robbery at Angola State Prison in 1972. A riot over poor conditions had broken out, and 23-year-old prison guard Brent Miller was fatally stabbed. Wallace and another Black Panther inmate, Albert Woodfox, were convicted of the murder.
Earlier this year, Wallace was diagnosed with liver cancer.
As The New York Daily News reports, Wallace, Woodfox and a third inmate, Robert King, were dubbed the "Angola 3" in 1997, "when a young law student and a former Black Panther discovered the three black inmates were still in solitary confinement — in 6-by-9-foot cells for 23 hours a day — after more than two decades." King was released in 2001.
The Daily News writes that Wallace and Woodfox "organized inmate protests against rape, violence and inhumane conditions at Angola."
"They were charged and convicted of the 1972 stabbing of white prison guard Brent Miller, 23, reportedly knifed more than 30 times in a prison riot.
"Both men said they were innocent from the start, arguing they were framed for their politics and protests. Supporters say no physical evidence ties the men to the murder."
The case was also taken up by Amnesty International.