July 22, 2005
Freed Prison Writer Files for Bankruptcy
NYTimes.com: Baton Rouge, LA (AP): Now that he's a free man, prison writer, "prison journalist Wilbert Rideau has filed for bankruptcy, saying he can't pay the more than $126,000 in court costs from a trial that resulted in his release after 44 years behind bars. The order to pay court costs is under appeal, but Rideau's bankruptcy attorney said the threat of having to pay the sum called for a bankruptcy filing. Rideau, 63, won freedom from a life prison sentence in January when a jury -- the fourth to hear his murder case -- found him guilty of a lesser charge of manslaughter in the 1961 death of a bank teller during a robbery. Rideau was released because the maximum penalty for manslaughter at the time of the crime was 21 years.
In ordering Rideau to pay court costs, the judge acknowledged Rideau was broke but said he could reap a windfall by turning his life story into a book. The judge compared the payment order to assessing costs to a person who expects a settlement from a pending civil suit." Story [Mark Godsey]
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