Prosecutors drop effort to seek execution for Abu-Jamal

Reuters News
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Posted: Dec 07, 2011 6:48 PM
Prosecutors drop effort to seek execution for Abu-Jamal

By Dave Warner

PHILADELPHIA (Reuters) - Convicted murderer Mumia Abu-Jamal, whose case became an international cause, will not be executed and will spend his life in prison, District Attorney Seth Williams announced on Wednesday.

Abu-Jamal was convicted in 1982 of killing a Philadelphia police officer and sentenced to death, a sentence that sparked criticism the case had been handled unfairly.

A federal appeals court overturned Abu-Jamal's death sentence in October and the U.S. Supreme Court declined to review the case, leaving the district attorney to accept life in prison or seek a new sentencing hearing.

"The decision to end this fight was not an easy one to make," Williams said in a statement in which he also said he will not seek a new hearing.

Abu-Jamal, who is in state prison in Greene County, will spend life in prison, he said.

"There has never been a doubt in my mind that Mumia Abu-Jamal shot and killed officer (Daniel) Faulkner, and I believe the appropriate sentence was handed down in 1982," Williams said.

"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 exactly where he belongs," Williams said.

Over the years, "Free Mumia" graffiti has become a common sight in many cities and college campuses where the convicted killer has found support.

His supporters have pointed to what they believe are factual errors in ballistics reports and they also say some eyewitnesses were never called to testify.

In Philadelphia, however, officials renamed part of a heavily traveled boulevard after the slain officer.

Maureen Faulkner, his widow, said in a statement: "My family and I have endured a three-decade ordeal at the hands of Mumia Abu-Jamal, his attorneys and his supporters, who in many cases never even took the time to educate themselves about the case before lending their names, giving their support and advocating for his freedom."

Faulkner was gunned down at a Center City intersection on December 9, 1981. He was 25 at the time.

"All of this has taken an unimaginable physical, emotional and financial toll on each of us," his widow said.

(Editing by Ellen Wulfhorst and Jerry Norton)