Philadelphia prosecutors have dropped their pursuit of the death penalty against Mumia Abu-Jamal, who was convicted of fatally shooting a police officer nearly three decades ago.
Abu-Jamal will instead serve a life sentence in prison, prosecutors said Wednesday.
Abu-Jamal had been sentenced to death forÂ the 1981 killing of Philadelphia police Officer Daniel Faulkner, but a federal appeals court in April declared the death sentence unconstitutional, ruling that the jury instructions at Abu-Jamal's original 1982 murder trial were unclear.
His attorneys have repeatedly argued that confusing jury instructions and the verdict form given to the jury favored a death sentence instead of life in prison.
The April appeals court ruling does not grant Abu-Jamal a new trial, so his conviction of murder stands. Last month, the state Supreme Court rejected a request from the Philadelphia District Attorney's Office to overturn the federal appeals court decision, meaning Abu-Jamal would get a life prison sentence unless the district attorney decided to seek another death sentence from a new jury.
Witnesses testified that Abu-Jamal shot Faulkner in the back and head after the officer pulled his brother over during a late-night traffic stop. HeÂ was wounded in the encounter and later confessed to the killing, according to other testimony.
Abu-Jamal has been on death row at a state prison in southwest Pennsylvania, where he's been an outspoken activist from behind bars - claiming there were procedural errors during his capital sentencing, and that too few blacks were on the jury.
The case has attracted international attention, amid charges of prosecutorial misconduct.Â Abu-Jamal, a former Black Panther and onetime radio reporter and cab driver, has been a divisive figure, with many prominent supporters arguing that racism pervaded his trial.
Others counter Abu-Jamal is using his race to try to escape responsibility for his actions. They say he has provoked community unrest for years with his writings and advocacy.FULL STORY