He may not walk free, especially if Philadelphia District Attorney Seth Williams has his say, but after decades of struggles and appeals, Mumia Abu-Jamal will not face the death penalty for his fiercely contested murder conviction in the killing of a police officer 30 years ago.
The long legal and political battle brought the former journalist, author and Black Panther international attention, and Abu-Jamal’s case became emblematic of the racial and socioeconomic biases that anti-capital punishment activists argue are built into the system. Those issues don’t disappear with this change of plans on the prosecution’s part, as the slogan for Abu-Jamal’s supporters is “Free Mumia,” after all. —KA
AP via Google News:
Flanked by the police Officer Daniel Faulkner’s widow, Philadelphia District Attorney Seth Williams announced his decision Wednesday, just two days short of the 30th anniversary of the killing. He said continuing to seek death penalty would open the case to “an unknowable number of years” of appeals.
“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, the city’s first black district attorney. “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 of fatally shooting Faulkner on Dec. 9, 1981. He was sentenced to death after his trial the following year.
[...] His message resonated particularly on college campuses and in the movie and music industries — actors Mike Farrell and Tim Robbins were among dozens of luminaries who used a New York Times ad to advocate for a new trial, and the Beastie Boys played a concert to raise money for Abu-Jamal’s defense fund.
AP / Jennifer E. Beach
This undated file photo shows Mumia Abu-Jamal, who now faces life in prison instead of the death penalty.