Philadelphia, April 26, 2011: The U.S. Third Circuit Court of Appeals today issued a ruling affirming the decision of the District Court in the Eastern District of Pennsylvania that granted convicted murderer Mumia Abu-Jamal a new penalty hearing. In 1982 a jury found Abu-Jamal guilty of the first degree murder of Philadelphia Police Officer Daniel Faulkner, and sentenced him to death. The Third Circuit’s decision overturns that sentence, only.
The sole issue resolved in the Third Circuit’s decision today was whether the jury at Abu-Jamal’s trial was mislead into believing that they were required to unanimously find any mitigating circumstances. The District Attorney’s Office believes that the jury instruction at trial regarding mitigating circumstances was fair and appropriate, and consistent with the standards enunciated by the Supreme Court. District Attorney Seth Williams will direct the filing of a petition seeking the grant of a writ of certiorari with the United States Supreme Court. This will seek to overturn the Third Circuit Court’s decision and re-instate the death penalty.
“My first call after learning about this ruling was to Maureen Faulkner, the widow of slain Philadelphia Police Officer Daniel Faulkner,” says District Attorney Seth Williams. “She was devastated by this news but remains steadfast in her belief that Abu-Jamal should pay the penalty that the jury found to be just for this horrible murder 29 years ago. Reasonable people can debate the death penalty, but I believe that if we are to have the death penalty we should use it if you shoot a police officer in the back and then stand over him and shoot him between the eyes. That is what Mumia Abu-Jamal did, and the death penalty is what the jury found that he deserves.”
“As the litigation involving the brutal murder of Officer Daniel Faulkner nears its fourth decade, I am mindful of the dedication of the many fine police officers who serve this city. We believe that we are correct in our position on the law in this case. For these reasons, I believe that we must, and we will, seek the review of the United States Supreme Court.”