Philly DA will not pursue appeal in Mumia Abu-Jamal legal saga

Steve Tawa
April 17, 2019 - 5:33 pm
Former Black Panther and convicted cop killer Mumia Abu-Jamal, seen in this undated file photo, will be spared the death penalty, the Philadelphia district attorney announced on Wednesday, December 7, 2011, bringing a quiet end to a racially charged case

April Saul/Philadelphia Inquirer/MCT/Sipa USA

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PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — The Philadelphia District Attorney's Office will not pursue an appeal in the long-running Mumia Abu-Jamal legal saga, which means Abu-Jamal's appeal before the Pennsylvania Supreme Court will move forward.

For months, the DA's office thought about appealing a judge's ruling, which would allow the now 64-year-old Abu-Jamal to re-argue his appeal of his conviction for the 1981 murder of Philadelphia police officer Daniel Faulkner.

District Attorney Larry Krasner explains prosecutors are withdrawing the appeal of Common Pleas Court Judge Leon Tucker's opinion, because the judge "modified" his position and narrowed the scope of his order.

Related: Prosecutors, defense attorneys ask judge to rescind Mumia Abu-Jamal's appeal

Much of the Abu-Jamal appeal centers on the former Chief Justice of the Pennsylvania Supreme Court, Ron Castille, who was the Philadelphia District Attorney during some of his appeals. Castille was among the justices who rejected Abu-Jamal’s final appeal in 2012. Critics say Castille should have recused himself before deciding appeals in the Abu-Jamal case and several others. 

The DA's office is withdrawing its appeal because it will not affect a large number of other convictions. 

It says Judge Tucker made clear that his opinion should not be read to mean that several hundreds of cases were disturbed, and that it only applies to people convicted of killing police officers whose cases were in the DA's office while Castille was DA between 1986-1991.

In a statement, Faulkner's widow, Maureen Faulkner, said this decision was not something Maureen and her family told the DA they wanted to do and that they felt "disappointed." 

"Our goal was to win the appeal of Judge Tucker’s ridiculous and wrong decision in favor of Jamal, which was based on his personal assumption that Justice Ron Castille was bias against my husband’s killer; even though there was absolutely nothing to support that notion. Now we’ll never have that opportunity," Maureen said. 

John McNesby, president of Philadelphia Fraternal Order of Police Lodge #5, also released a statement.

“We are disappointed to learn that the DA’s office will not appeal the latest court ruling…Our hearts ache for Maureen and the entire Faulkner family as they continue to fight for justice on behalf of hero-officer Daniel Faulkner," McNesby said.