Thursday, August 23, 2012

Supreme Court: Journalist Mumia Abu Jamal To Spend Life in Prison "Live from Death Row"

Prosecutor ends 30-year quest to execute ex-Black Panther

by John Bacon,
November 30th -0001

The Philadelphia district attorney said today he is dropping pursuit of the death penalty against former Black Panther Mumia Abu-Jamal, convicted of killing a Philadelphia police officer 30 years ago, the Associated Press reports.

Update at 12:20 p.m.: The NAACP Legal Defense & Educational Fund counsel and law professor Judith Ritter, who represents Abu-Jamal, released a statement in support of the decision.

"The district attorney did the right thing. After three long decades, it was time to bring the quest for a death sentence for Mr. Abu-Jamal to an end," said John Payton, director-counsel of the fund. Ritter added, "There is no question that justice is served when a death sentence from a misinformed jury is overturned. Thirty years later, the district attorney' s decision not to seek a new death sentence also furthers the interests of justice."

Update at 12 p.m.: "There's never been any doubt in my mind that Mumia Abu-Jamal shot and killed Officer Faulkner. I believe that the appropriate sentence was handed down by a jury of his peers in 1982," said District Attorney Seth Williams, who is black. "While Abu-Jamal will no longer be facing the death penalty, he will remain behind bars for the rest of his life, and that is where he belongs."

The conviction was upheld through years of legal appeals despite Abu-Jamal's claims of being victimized by a biased legal system. A federal appeals court ordered a new sentencing hearing after ruling the instructions given to the jury were potentially misleading. The U.S. Supreme Court declined to weigh in on the case in October. That forced prosecutors to decide if they wanted to again pursue the death penalty

Original post: The announcement comes two days before supporters of the former radio reporter, who was convicted in the murder in 1981 of Philadelphia Police Officer Daniel Faulkner, will gather to mark the 30th anniversary of Abu-Jamal's arrest, ThePhiladelphia Inquirer says.

Abu-Jamal, 58, is held at the state prison in Greene County in western Pennsylvania, where he has gained fame for his death row writings. He will serve a life sentence.

Faulkner was on patrol in Center City on Dec. 9, 1981, when, according to testimony, he pulled over a car driven by Abu-Jamal's brother, William Cook, at 13th and Locust Streets, the Inquirer says.

Abu-Jamal, moonlighting as a cabdriver, recognized his brother's car, ran toward them and shot Faulkner, witnesses testified. A gunfight ensued, and Abu-Jamal was struck by a bullet from Faulkner's gun. Abu-Jamal was found slumped on a curb.

Witnesses said Abu-Jamal stood over the wounded officer and shot him in the face.

Neither Abu-Jamal nor Cook has testified about what happened that night. Abu-Jamal has denied shooting Faulkner.

In October, the U.S. Supreme Court refused to hear a petition by prosecutors seeking to reinstate the death penalty against Abu-Jamal.

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