Supreme Court Lets Philly Officer Killer’s Conviction Stand

AP, April 6, 2009

Mumia Abu-Jamal has lost his bid for a new trial in the killing of a Philadelphia police officer in 1981.

The Supreme Court said Monday it will not take up Abu-Jamal’s claims that prosecutors improperly excluded blacks from the jury that convicted him of murdering Philadelphia police officer Daniel Faulkner.

The 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Philadelphia upheld Abu-Jamal’s conviction but held his death sentence invalid. The appeals court said it would not second-guess state court rulings rejecting Abu-Jamal’s claims of bias in the composition of the jury.

The high court considered only the conviction. The state has separately asked the court to reinstate the death sentence, but the justices have not acted on that request.

A Philadelphia jury convicted Abu-Jamal, who is black, of killing Faulkner, who was white, in 1981 after the patrolman pulled over Abu-Jamal’s brother during an overnight traffic stop.

Prosecutors say Faulkner, 25, managed to shoot Abu-Jamal during the confrontation. A wounded Abu-Jamal, his own gun lying nearby, was still at the scene when police arrived, and authorities considered the evidence against him overwhelming.

Since Abu-Jamal’s 1982 conviction, activists in the United States and Europe have rallied in support of his claims that he was the victim of a racist justice system. Abu-Jamal, 54, has kept his case in the spotlight through books and radio broadcasts.

The case is Abu-Jamal v. Beard, 08-8483.

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