CharlesB at CNCL.ci.detroit.mi.us
Tue Dec 18 12:30:08 MST 2001
18) 10:05 PST PHILADELPHIA (AP) --
A federal judge threw out Mumia Abu-Jamal's
death sentence on Tuesday, ruling that the former
journalist and Black Panther is entitled to a new
sentencing hearing for killing a Philadelphia police
officer in 1981.
U.S. District Judge William Yohn ordered the state
to conduct the hearing within 180 days.
"Should the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania not
have conducted a new sentencing hearing ... the
Commonwealth shall sentence petitioner to life
imprisonment," the judge said in his 272-page ruling.
Abu-Jamal is America's most famous death-row
inmate -- revered by a worldwide "Free Mumia"
movement as a crusader against racial injustice, and
reviled by the officers's supporters as an
unrepentant cop-killer who deserves to die.
The judge refused Abu-Jamal's request for a new
trial, upholding his 1982 conviction on first-degree
The ruling could be appealed to the U.S. 3rd Circuit
Court of Appeals.
Abu-Jamal was convicted of shooting officer Daniel
Faulkner, 25, during the early-morning hours of
Dec. 9, 1981, after the officer pulled over
Abu-Jamal's brother in a downtown traffic stop.
Celebrities, death-penalty opponents and foreign
politicians have since rallied to Abu-Jamal's cause,
calling him a political prisoner and saying he was
railroaded by a racist justice system.
Philadelphia Common Pleas Judge Pamela Dembe
ruled Nov. 21 that she did not have jurisdiction over
Abu-Jamal's petition for a new trial, scuttling his
hopes for another round of state-court appeals.
Abu-Jamal exhausted the state appeals process two
years ago, but a petition filed in September argued
that the defense had new evidence to clear him,
including a confession by a man named Arnold
In a 1999 affidavit, Beverly claimed he was hired by
the mob to kill Faulkner because the officer had
interfered with mob payoffs to police.
Abu-Jamal's former lawyers, Leonard Weinglass
and Daniel R. Williams, said they thought the
confession was not credible and Yohn refused to
order Beverly to testify on Abu-Jamal's behalf.
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