Mumia Abu-Jamal Taken Off Death Row

After a thirty year court battle Philadelphia prosecutors will no longer be seeking the death penalty in the case of former Black Panther Mumia Abu-Jamal, convicted of killing a white police officer.

District Attorney Seth Williams announced his decision with police officer Daniel Faulkner’s widow standing by his side.

“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 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.”

Abu-Jamal was convicted and sentenced to death for the fatal shooting of Faulkner on Dec. 9, 1981.

The conviction was upheld through years of legal appeals, but 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 which forced prosecutors to decide if they wanted to again pursue the death penalty or accept a life sentence.

According to trial testimony, Abu-Jamal saw his brother scuffle with the 25-year-old patrolman during a 4 a.m. traffic stop in 1981 and ran toward the scene. Police found Abu-Jamal wounded by a round from Faulkner’s gun. Faulkner was shot multiple times and killed. A .38-caliber revolver registered to Abu-Jamal was found at the scene with five spent shell casings.

Maureen and Daniel Faulkner were newlyweds when the officer was killed.

“My family and I have endured a three-decade ordeal at the hands of Mumia Abu-Jamal, his attorneys and his supporters, who in many cases never even took the time to educate themselves about the case before lending their names, giving their support and advocating for his freedom,” Maureen Faulkner said Wednesday. “All of this has taken an unimaginable physical, emotional and financial toll on each of us.”

Abu-Jamal, born Wesley Cook, turned 58 earlier this year.

Abu-Jamal, a one-time journalist, garnered worldwide support from the “Free Mumia” movement. Hundreds of vocal supporters and death-penalty opponents regularly turn out for court hearings in his case.

Over the years, Abu-Jamal has challenged the predominantly white makeup of the jury, instructions given to jurors and the statements of eyewitnesses. He has also alleged ineffective counsel, racism by the trial judge and that another man confessed to the crime.

Maureen Faulkner railed against what she called the justice system’s “dirty little secret” the difficulty of putting condemned killers to death and called the judges who overturned Abu-Jamal’s death sentence “dishonest cowards”. Pennsylvania has put to death three people since the U.S. Supreme Court restored the death penalty in 1976, and all three had willingly given up on their appeals.

“The fix is in before the hearing even begins,” she said.

Faulkner also vowed to fight anyone who tries to get special treatment for Abu-Jamal, insisting that he be moved to the general population after being taken off death row.

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2 Comments

  1. I was on fb, on one particular wall, talking about Mumia Abu Jamal, not getting the death penalty.

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