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Supreme Court Overturns Ruling that Nullified Death Penalty for Cop Killer

Supreme Court Overturns Ruling that Nullified Death Penalty for Cop Killer

Officer Daniel Faulkner

The AP via YellowBrix

January 20, 2010

Philadelphia – The Supreme Court on Tuesday threw out a ruling that had set aside the death sentence of Mumia Abu-Jamal, convicted of killing a Philadelphia police officer in the 1980s in a racially tinged case that has made the former Black Panther an international cause celebre.

The justices ordered the U.S. 3rd Circuit Court of Appeals in Philadelphia to revisit its 2008 ruling that Abu-Jamal deserved a new sentencing hearing because of flawed jury instructions.

The Supreme Court pointed to its decision in an Ohio case last week, when it said a neo-Nazi killer did not deserve a new sentencing hearing on those grounds.

A mostly white Philadelphia jury convicted Abu-Jamal of killing white Officer Daniel Faulkner in 1981.

Prosecutors think Faulkner and Abu-Jamal exchanged gunfire after Abu-Jamal’s brother was pulled over in a traffic stop. A wounded Abu-Jamal, his own gun lying nearby, was still at the scene when police arrived, and authorities consider the evidence against him overwhelming.

But he maintains his innocence. Since his conviction, activists in the United States and Europe have rallied in support of his claim that he was the victim of a racist justice system.

The issue over jury instructions relates to whether jurors understood how to weigh mitigating circumstances that might have kept Abu-Jamal off death row.

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