After 30 years of legal battles in what is perhaps the nation's most famous and racially charged death-penalty case, Philadelphia prosecutors announced today that they will end their battle to seek the death penalty for former Black Panther and one-time journalist Mumia Abu-Jamal in the 1981 murder of a white police officer.
The Associated Press reports:
Abu-Jamal was convicted of fatally shooting Faulkner on Dec. 9, 1981. He was sentenced to death after his trial the following year.
Abu-Jamal, who has been incarcerated in a western Pennsylvania prison, has garnered worldwide support from those who believe he was the victim of a biased justice system.
The conviction was upheld through years of legal appeals. But a federal appeals court ordered a new sentencing hearing after ruling the instructions given to the jury were potentially misleading.
The U.S. Supreme Court declined to weigh in on the case in October. That forced prosecutors to decide if they wanted to again pursue the death penalty through a new sentencing hearing or accept a life sentence.
According to trial testimony, Abu-Jamal saw his brother scuffle with the 25-year-old patrolman during a 4 a.m. traffic stop in 1981 and ran toward the scene. Police found Abu-Jamal wounded by a round from Faulkner's gun. Faulkner, shot several times, was killed. A .38-caliber revolver registered to Abu-Jamal was found at the scene with five spent shell casings ...
Over the years, Abu-Jamal has challenged the predominantly white makeup of the jury, instructions given to jurors and the statements of eyewitnesses. He has also alleged ineffective counsel, racism by the trial judge and that another man confessed to the crime ...
Read more at NPR.