Feature

Writer goes free

The week's news at a glance.

Lake Charles, La.

Wilbert Rideau, a killer who became a celebrated journalist, walked free this week after serving 44 years in a Louisiana prison. Rideau—who co-directed a prison documentary that was nominated for an Academy Award—admitted to killing a bank employee during a 1961 robbery, but he always insisted it wasn’t intentional; he said he’d just panicked when the victim and two other hostages ran. Rideau, who is black, was convicted three times by all-white juries. The victim was white. But in a new trial, a racially mixed jury found Rideau guilty of the lesser crime of manslaughter. He had already served twice the maximum sentence, so he was released. Rideau said his first goal was to find work. “I’d like to write,” he said. “I’ve got so much to say.”

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