D.A. won’t seek death penalty for Mumia Abu-Jamal December 07, 2011|By Joseph A. Slobodzian, INQUIRER STAFF WRITER
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DA Seth Williams during a press conference today. Pictured at left are Joseph McGill…
Saying he wanted to avoid another three decades of appeals - and a new public forum for Mumia Abu-Jamal - Philadelphia District Attorney Seth Williams said today he will not seek a new death penalty hearing for the convicted killer of Officer Daniel Faulkner.
Flanked by Faulkner's widow, Police Commissioner Charles H. Ramsey, officials of the Fraternal Order of Police and a cadre of prosecutors past and present who were involved with the case, Williams said he believed his office could successfully impanel a new jury and get a new death sentence against Abu-Jamal.
But the tortuous legal process ahead for a newly-imposed death sentence - and the likelihood that Abu-Jamal, 57, will die in prison before it could be carried out - made that route seem futile.
"Every reviewing court has found the trial fair and the guilty verdict sound," Williams said at a press conference. ". . . Our best remaining option is to let Mr. Abu-Jamal to die in prison."
Still, Williams called the decision "not an easy one to make" and it was clear from the news conference that the key human factor was Maureen Faulkner's concurrence.
Faulkner spoke for about five minutes, an angry, at times emotional tirade against the federal appeals courts and judges who have reviewed Abu-Jamal's multiple appeals.
She denounced the former Black Panther and radio reporter for "operating a cottage industry in prison. The money has poured into his defense fund and it's a disgrace."
Judith L. Ritter, the lawyer who has represented Abu-Jamal in his most recent appeals, said she was pleased with Williams' decision.
"No one benefits from an execution based on a jury's verdict and deemed by the federal appeals court to be unfair," said Ritter, who is also a professor at the Widener University School of Law.
Ritter, who has worked on the case with the NAACP Legal Defense & Educational Fund in New York, said she still hopes there will be "new developments" that will allow the legal team to revive Abu-Jamal's bid for a new trial.
From an inmate's standpoint, Williams' decision could bring about a qualitative change in Abu-Jamal's life. As a death-row inmate at the state prison at Greene in Western Pennsylvania, he is in solitary, locked in his cell 23 hours a day. Nicknamed "Pops" by some inmates, Abu-Jamal will now be transferred into the general population live with other inmates.
Faulkner said she was "heartened by that prospect."
The merits of any one celebrity convict's case are immaterial. The state should simply not be in the business of killing citizens Teresa Wiltz guardian.co.uk It doesn't matter to me whether Mumia... more