Mumia Abu-Jamal is on his way to a rehearing of his conviction for killing a city cop before the state Supreme Court after Philadelphia District Attorney Larry Krasner dropped his appeal against the move this week.
Krasner’s decision brought jeers from some, cheers from others over the case involving the 1981 killing of Philadelphia Police Officer Daniel Faulkner.
John McNesby, president of the Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 5, said in an email that the police union was disappointed and Abu-Jamal should stay behind bars.
“The facts remain clear today as they did more than 30 years ago, this defendant is a convicted cop killer and should remain in prison for the rest of his life,” he said. “This latest ruling by a Philadelphia judge and the DA’s decision not to appeal only re-victimizes Maureen and the entire Faulkner family.”
Maureen Faulkner said in an email that Krasner let her and her family down by revoking his appeal.
“Larry Krasner promised my family and me that he would do everything within his power to keep my husband’s remorseless killer in prison for the rest of his life,” she said. “We believe today’s decision not to appeal has broken that promise.”
In December, Philadelphia Common Pleas Judge Leon Tucker issued an opinion that reinstated Abu-Jamal’s appeal rights, citing new evidence that allegedly showed a former state Supreme Court justice who denied Abu-Jamal’s appeal was biased.
Kranser appealed Tucker’s opinion over a technical issue that he said had the potential to affect hundreds of other settled cases. But after Tucker issued another decision in March clarifying and limiting the scope of his original opinion, Kranser relented.
The decision does not grant Abu-Jamal a new trial. Instead, he can re-argue his appeal before the state Supreme Court, effectively resetting the appeals process. His case is currently in Superior Court but it could be transferred to the state’s highest court at any time.
Abu-Jamal has been in prison since 1982 and always maintained his innocence. Abu-Jamal was on death row until 2011 when prosecutors dropped the execution case against him; he has since has been serving a life sentence in Pennsylvania.
On Thursday, a contingent of more than a dozen Abu-Jamal supporters gathered at the Octavius Catto statue at City Hall to celebrate and call for Abu-Jamal’s release.
Johanna Fernandez, a professor of history at Baruch College in New York and longtime advocate of Abu-Jamal, said during the rally that Abu-Jamal “deserves an impartial hearing.”
Pam Africa, chairwoman of the Concerned Friends and Family of Mumia Abu-Jamal and longtime MOVE member, said Krasner’s decision was “a partial victory for the entire movement,” but called on the district attorney to release Abu-Jamal as he reargues his appeal.
“It’s up to Krasner,” she said, “who’s got worldwide attention on him.”