January 19, 2002

Third appeal filed as Mumia tries to get court to hear evidence

By Monica Moorehead

A legal appeal on behalf of the revolutionary inmate Mumia Abu-Jamal, on death row, was filed for the third time with the Pennsylvania State Supreme Court on Jan. 9. The appeal asks that the Supreme Court make Pamela Dembe, a Common Pleas state judge, hear the testimony of Arnold Beverly, a former mob hit man who has confessed to killing white police officer Daniel Faulkner on Dec. 9, 1981.

Abu-Jamal was framed for this killing. He was convicted by a biased jury of first-degree murder on July 3, 1982, and given the death penalty. He has faced two death warrants signed by former Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Ridge, who now heads the Office of Homeland Security for the Bush administration.

Only mass intervention by the political movement here and worldwide saved Abu-Jamal from legal lynching by lethal injection.

Judge Dembe recently refused to allow Beverly's testimony to be heard in her court, stating that she did not have the "jurisdiction" to hear this crucial testimony. Dembe could have ordered a new post-conviction relief hearing. That would allow all the evidence suppressed during the original 1982 trial to finally be heard. This evidence was also suppressed during hearings in 1995 and 1996.

All this evidence, including the Beverly confession, corroborates Abu-Jamal's profession of innocence. A lie-detector test has corroborated Beverly's claim that Abu-Jamal had nothing to do with the Faulkner killing.

Federal District Judge William Yohn threw out Abu-Jamal's death sentence in the middle of December, admitting that the original jury had been improperly instructed during the sentencing phase, but refused to overturn the conviction. Yohn ordered a new sentencing hearing, which could result in a life imprisonment term or another death sentence. A new sentencing hearing would listen only to evidence already admitted before the court. That leaves out recently discovered evidence like the Beverly confession, as well as the testimony of witnesses who have subsequently recanted the stories they told under police pressure.

Yohn ignored 29 other constitutional rights violations that were included in a federal appeals brief filed by Abu-Jamal's former lawyers, Leonard Weinglass and Dan Williams. This federal appeal was filed on Oct. 4, 1999, after the Pennsylvania State Supreme Court turned down Abu-Jamal's appeal for the second time.

If the courts agreed to hear the Beverly confession, it would raise many questions as to why organized crime ordered the execution of Faulkner in the first place. A Jan. 8 press release issued by Abu-Jamal's attorneys states that Beverly was paid to kill Faulkner "on behalf of corrupt elements in the Philadelphia Police Department and organized crime, because the officer was an obstacle to the 'protection racket' corrupt officers were running in center city Philadelphia." There have been many scandals involving the Philadelphia police in recent years.

The Philadelphia criminal justice system, including the Fraternal Order of Police, want to keep a tight lid on any further exposure of police corruption and misconduct.

This new appeal also seeks to introduce the testimony of court stenographer Terri Maurer-Carter, who says that she overheard the judge in Abu-Jamal's original trial, Albert Sabo, state that he was "going to help fry the n----r."

Abu-Jamal's lawyers-- Marlene Kamish, Eliot Grossman and Michale Farrell--are filing state and federal appeals at the same time, and estimate this will cost $150,000 in legal fees. The International Concerned Family and Friends of Mumia Abu-Jamal has asked that donations earmarked to Abu-Jamal's legal defense be made to the National Black United Fund
and sent to NBUF at 40 Clinton St.,
5th floor, Newark, NJ 07102.