Mumia Abu-Jamal

Charles Brown CharlesB at
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
                 murder charges.

                 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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