The last inmate of a group known as the "Angola Three" pleaded no contest Friday to manslaughter in the 1972 death of a prison guard and was released after more than four decades in prison, the AP reports. Albert Woodfox and two other men became known as the "Angola Three" for their decades-long stays in isolation at the Louisiana Penitentiary at Angola and other prisons. Officials said they were kept in solitary because their Black Panther Party activism would otherwise rile up inmates at the maximum-security prison farm in Angola. Woodfox consistently maintained his innocence in the killing of guard Brent Miller. He was being held at the West Feliciana Parish Detention Center in St. Francisville, about 30 miles north of Baton Rouge.
He was awaiting a third trial in Miller's death after earlier convictions were thrown out by federal courts for reasons including racial bias in selecting a grand jury foreman. "Although I was looking forward to proving my innocence at a new trial, concerns about my health and my age have caused me to resolve this case now and obtain my release with this no contest plea to lesser charges. I hope the events of today will bring closure to many," he said in a press release earlier Friday. Woodfox, who turned 69 on the same day he was released from custody, spoke to reporters and supporters briefly outside the jail before driving off with his brother. Speaking of his future plans, he said he wanted to visit his mother's gravesite. She died while he was in prison, and Woodfox said he was not allowed to go to the funeral. (Read more Louisiana stories.)