Shreveport man freed from prison after a life conviction for marijuana charge becomes the latest victim of gun violence

Louisiana

SHREVEPORT, La (KTAL/KMSS) – Gun violence on the streets of Shreveport last week claimed the life of a man who was just released from prison.

Fate Winslow was freed in December 2020 from Angola with the help of the Innocence Project of New Orleans. The non-profit shared their reaction to the news and said his case highlights the injustice black men face in the criminal justice system in Louisiana.

According to court documents Winslow was homeless in 2008 when he was approached by an undercover police officer in Shreveport, asking him to find a sex worker or marijuana. Fate borrowed someone’s bicycle and went to a known drug dealer’s house where he obtained two bags of marijuana, valued at $20.

“Fate was then arrested and the white drug dealer who had the marked bills was not arrested. But Fate who was a Black man who recently became homeless was arrested,” said Cat Forrester with the Innocence Project of New Orleans.

Forrester said Louisiana’s habitual offender law led to a life conviction. He had four previous offenses, however none were violent crimes.

“Yet he was sentenced to life in prison over $20 of marijuana. He would watch the news of marijuana legislation in other states around the country and think, ‘Why am I in here for this?'”

Winslow spent 12 years in Angola prison until the Innocence Project of New Orleans got involved. The organization worked with the district attorney to have Winslow was re-sentenced to time-served. He came home to Shreveport after his release.

“He had just gotten a new puppy. He was reconnecting with his family, he had just purchased a new house. He had gotten his driver’s license. By all accounts, he was on his way to rebuilding a meaningful and happy life,” Forrester said.

On May 4, Shreveport police responded to a shooting on Linwood Avenue where a couple had been killed. Fate Winslow had been fatally shot along with his female companion, Tammy Sheree.

“I personally was devastated. I talked to fate many times and he was just absolutely full of life and joy. As an organization we were shocked and deeply saddened that somebody that just came home and rebuild his life, had it taken from him so quickly and violently. When there was so much promise and hope,” Forrester said.

Forrester said before Fate’s death, he was always happy to share his story in hopes to help incarcerated people and their families. He would have turned 54 on May 18.

“He was so happy for those four and a half months that he was free. I think they were absolutely precious to him and his family. It’s tragic that his potential was cut so short so soon after gaining some modicum of justice,” Forrester said.

Shreveport police say the investigation is ongoing and no arrests have been made.

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