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First of "Angola 5" is convicted of murder, sentenced to death

It should go without saying that murder is a serious charge. Conviction can lead to life behind bars or even worse. When a prisoner serving a life sentence is accused of committing murder during incarceration, as the so-called "Angola 5" have been, conviction can result in the death penalty.

The "Angola 5" are five prisoners with ties to the New Orleans area who allegedly killed a guard at the Louisiana State Penitentiary more than 11 years ago. According to the authorities, six men were serving life sentences for murder and planned to escape from prison. On Dec. 28, 1999, the six allegedly attempted to break out of prison and ended up taking three guards hostage. The prosecution claimed when one of the guards refused to hand over his keys, the prisoners beat him to death.

One of the prisoners was shot and killed by the guards in the skirmish. The five surviving prisoners have been charged in connection with the prison guard's death. This week, a jury convicted a 50-year-old member of the "Angola 5" of first-degree murder and recommended the death penalty. The other four inmates are still awaiting their first-degree murder trials.

When someone is charged with murder, it is important to consult with an experienced defense attorney immediately. A defense lawyer will thoroughly review all the evidence against the defendant and help ensure that person's side of the story is heard. In a situation where the rest of the world often seems to pass judgment before the defendant steps into the courtroom, a murder defense attorney protects the rights of the accused.

The defendant in this particular case served as his own attorney. While it is impossible to say the outcome would have been different if he had hired a lawyer, the reality is an attorney knows what questions to ask and how to more effectively defend a case.

Source: nola.com, "'Angola 5' convict is sentenced to death for fatally beating prison guard," Paul Purpura, 23 May 2011

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