Mumia Abu-Jamal no longer faces death penalty
Abu-Jamal, convicted of killing a Philadelphia police officer in 1981, argued there were procedural errors during his sentencing.
December 7th, 2011
12:27 PM ET

Mumia Abu-Jamal no longer faces death penalty

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 for 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. He 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. 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.

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Filed under: Crime • Pennsylvania
soundoff (33 Responses)
  1. BOMBO

    Willie, I hope you are not saying that the murder of this particular cop is justified, in light of crimes committed by other cops? You aren't stupid enough to be saying THAT are you?

    December 7, 2011 at 6:07 pm | Report abuse |
    • leeintulsa

      Wouldn't condemning someone to death because some people who have the same job are crooks be kinda the same thing as racial profiling and prejudice? Or just some kinda revenge thing? Where does that end?

      December 7, 2011 at 6:42 pm | Report abuse |
  2. bigwilliestyles

    What I meant to say is contained in my post. You may interpret it in any way you like.

    December 7, 2011 at 6:14 pm | Report abuse |
  3. mark

    What is the deal? This guy shoots a cop in the face and kills him. You do gooders would sing a different tune if it was your Husband, wife, father, son, friend, co-worker.

    What about the widow? How about boycotting this guys books, or better yet take the proceeds of the sale of his books and give it to his widow.

    Resonable people can debate the Death penalty, for me I can sleep at night as I hear a man such as this was executed at 12:01 am. Is society safer? will it lower crime? Prison gaurds will be safer but you gun down a cop on the street you need the hot needle.

    Justice will be done.

    December 7, 2011 at 8:28 pm | Report abuse |
  4. banasy©

    Oh, I see.
    Someone has to always throw the race card in when the CONFESSED KILLER who shouted "I HOPE THE MOFO DIES" should get a free pass because he is a man of color.

    I will comment on police brutality when the goddam article is actually ON police brutality...not when some low-life who shot a man in the back decides to become a militant activist while serving time in prison for what he was convicted on.
    He is no longer under the threat of the death penalty.

    I don't give a good goddam what color the man is, I would feel the same contempt is a freaking redneck low life did the same thing.

    He's getting life for a crime he committed, and confessed to.
    He should not expect to be freed because he is a vocal advocate for wrongfully convicted people, of WHICH HE IS NOT ONE OF!

    Reverse racism is just as reprehensible as racism.
    People need to remember that!

    December 7, 2011 at 8:40 pm | Report abuse |
  5. BOMBO

    Maybe I've said enough already (You're nodding, I see) but this guy reminds me a bit of the Travis Bickle character in Taxi Driver. He was a revolutionary Black Panther member and loved to proclaim his political ideology on radio when he was younger. Later, as a cab driver, he would carry a gun on his shift. One day, he saw a cop pull his brother over in a separate car across the street. I think he was HOPING for something like this so he could be a big hero. I imagine him in the years leading up to this, walking around in his cheap apartment, muttering racial epithets and waving his gun around. Then he saw an excuse to act.............

    December 7, 2011 at 8:54 pm | Report abuse |
  6. ronvan

    There needs to be a LAW that states if you kill a cop, fireman, etc., it is an automatic death penalty! NO plea bargaining, NO back room deals, and IF the evidence is there NO appeals! This is a gun crazy country, and yet england "bobbies in todays world still do not carry guns! Only in special cases do they carry guns and then have to alert people that they are "armed police".

    December 7, 2011 at 9:05 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Jennifer Smith

    I'm in complete awe, that this is still going on. I'm glad that the death penalty has been taken off the table, but still upset about the verdict. I have a ? to ask all of the non-supporters, How would you feel you were had to spend a eterntiy for a crime you didn't commit? Especially, since all of the newly supported evidence states that, the police had perjured themselves, stating that the judge was racially biased, stating that the police falsified documents and evidence so you can be imprisoned. How dare you act like"racism" wasn't prevalent and that politicians didn't lie and coerce witnesses to put African Americans that part of the Movement and "Black Panther" society in jail? Are you all not aware how much "Frank Rizzo" hated African Americans and the "Black Panthers"? Are you all not aware of all the African American people that have died, because of the "hate" and "racism"? Think of all of the African American people who were falsely convicted and killed, and then pardon so many years later, such as Lena Baker. You need to do your own research, and not just read the falsified transcripts! How dare these people act like "racism" never existed and that African Americans weren't crucified and wrongfully accused, just because of their skin color. Next, you all will tell me, that "slavery" didn't exist? If that is the case, Why did so many caucasian apologize to African American people after the movie "Roots" was released? I am so upset, at the response of mostly caucasians that have been so ignorant with their racial slurs? It makes me think that "racism", alive and well, and has been since the beginning. All this time, I have been raised in a predominantly caucasian neighborhood, I have only really associated with caucasian people, and to think that this is how they have felt about my "race" this entire time. This case has really woken me up, I have been exposed to the most hatred than I have ever seen in my entire life. Because of this, I can no longer associate myself with these kind of people with their "racist" views! I feel completely duped! You all who don't believe in his innocence, In my opinion are the ignorant ones! I have not heard any evidence pointing to his guilt, only people's ignorant opinions! But they have nothing to support it, but lies! They accuse me of being "racist"; Why, because I believe they have the wrong man. No, because I have the the supporting documents, that point to this innocence! I hear a lot of folks saying that African American is making this issue about "race?" Really, All I heard was racial slurs from every other race except for African Americans.

    Honestly, I sympathize with Ms. Faulkner losing her loved one's life, But she was not there, so she can't verify that he killed him neither! I don't understand why this country allow this to hang over everyone's head, Why, so we can continue to keep "racism" alive? Why are we still focusing on an issue that has happened 30 years ago? We have more pressing issues to deal with in this day and age. Let's focus on the constant killings of fellow officers, and military, Are there lives not as important or valuable as Daniel Faulkner? Do we not care about kids being constantly victimzed and killed everyday? Do we not care about the broken economy and the fact, that people are homeless and can't really survive? Do we not care about corrupt politics that are still in office? Why are you putting so much attention into Ms Faulkner's life than your own? How do you even know, if you are going to be here tomorrow or any of your family members? How do you know if you are going to be able to financially take care of yourself? Why do you value someone's life that you don't know, Why do you put their life above your own?

    December 10, 2011 at 9:36 am | Report abuse |
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