Zolo Agona Azania


Indiana Death Row Prisoner Struggles Against Unfair Death Sentence

Michigan City, IN. --- A specially appointed judge ruled on May 1, 2005, that the State of Indiana could not seek a third death penalty against Zolo Agona Azania, who previously had two sentences overturned on appeal, because of "fundamental principles of fairness, due process, and speedy justice." Despite no longer being under a death penalty, Zolo Azania is still on death row while Indiana prosecutors appeal the judge's order. If the judge's order barring the death penalty is upheld, Zolo could be released from prison in five years.

Zolo, who is Black, was convicted by an all-white jury in February, 1982, for the 1981 murder of sa white, Gary, Indiana, police officer in the course of a bank robbery. Zolo did not receive a fair trial, and has always maintained his uninvolvement in the crime. On May 25, 1982, he bacame the first person in Allen County to be sentenced to death since 1959.

In 1993 the Indiana Supreme Court vacated Zolo's death sentence --- while failing to overturn his conviction --- holding that the state had withheld favorable evidence ( results of a gunshot residue test termed "inconclusive" as to whether Zolo had fired a gun ). The court also found that Zolo's trial counsel had provided ineffective assistance ( he was intimidated by the police-state atmosphere surrounding the trial that he didn't sit at the same table as Zolo; he failed to interview defense witnesses; he put on no evidence during the trial or the death penalty phase ). After a second sentencing trial in 1996, Zolo was resentenced to death, by a jury composed of 11 whites, and no Blacks.

In 2002, the Indiana Supreme Court vacated Zolo's second sentence of death, finding that Black people had been systematically excluded from the pool from which the jury had been chosen. In fact, half of Allen County's Black population had been eliminated from the jury pool for the previous 15 years.

All three Allen County Superior Court judges have been forced to recuse themselves from Zolo's case. Two were disqualified for blatant conflicts of interest and the other left the bench to enter an alcohol rehabilitation center. In 2004, Boone County Circuit Court Judge Steven H. David was specially appointed to oversee the case. Ruling on a motion filed by Zolo's defense counsel, Michael Deutsch, of the People's Law Office, in Chicago. Judge David held that Zolo's constitutional rights to due process and a speedy trial have been violated, and prejudice would result if the death penalty was pursued after a 23-year post-conviction dealy in sentencing. The judge found that the State was largely responsible for the delay. Nveretheless, the Lake County, Indiana prosecutor has filed an appeal to the Indiana Supreme Court, seeking to overturn the order which bars him from pursuing a third death sentencing. Meanwhile, people around the world continue to oppose a new death penalty for Zolo.

Zolo Agona Azania,
Indiana State Prison,
P.O. Box 41,
Michigan, IN

Michael Deutsch, Esq.,
People's Law Office,
1180 N Miwaukee Avenue,
Chicago, Il 60622
Ph: (773) 235-0070

No Death Penalty for Zolo Committee,
P.O. Box 478314,
Chicago, Il 60647 &

I also received a letter from Zolo today dated 2/16, along with this release, that he wanted media attention and circulation put to; he has been fighting an ongoing unreasonable tampering of his mail.

He says they don't want prisoners to be privately communicating with the public, they don't want letters sealed anymore, and insist on all mail being left open; legal mail to attorneys and the court are still allowed to be sealed though.

Please forward to any and all human rights advocates/groups I haven't thought of myself here now; and send this release to them.

This case has a lot of similarities to Mumia's case, where the state doggedly wants to really make an example of him on this death penalty case. Zolo remains feeling well and strong, and he says he is alert and focussed. And as he puts it..." I am fighting tooth and nail to pull myself from the clutches of the death merchant."

Twitch - Entropy,
ABC Legal Services