After a 30-year battle, prosecutors have officially ceased their bid to see Mumia Abu-Jamal sentenced to death for the murder of a white police officer. Philadelphia District Attorney Seth Williams announced the decision today, emphasizing that continuing to seek the death penalty against Mumia would only extend the case for “an unknowable number of years” as a result of continuous appeals by the defense.
Considered by many to be a journalist and political activist turned political prisoner and victim of an unfair legal system, Mumia’s case stands as a hallmark for those battling for and against the death penalty. After being convicted of fatally shooting Officer Daniel Faulkner, Abu-Jamal, now age 58, was originally sentenced to death in 1981 by what was argued to be a racially biased legal system. Abu-Jamal gained worldwide support from the “Free Mumia” movement, whose support seemingly continued to mount as his appeals were denied throughout the years.
The breakthrough occurred in April 2011, when a federal appeals court ordered a new sentencing hearing after ruling the instructions given to the jury were potentially misleading. The move left prosecutors with the decision to either again pursue the death penalty through a new sentencing hearing or accept a life sentence.