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A Second Chance For Closure

Updated on June 29, 2011

Case Closed--Finally?

I got some surprising and interesting news this week, an appeals court ruled that the death sentence imposed on Mumia-Abu-Jamal, the Philadelphia, PA journalist turned radical activist, for murdering a police officer, was unconstitutional, and called for a new sentencing hearing. The Philadelphia District Attorney has announced he will appeal, and this case will likely end up before the US Supreme Court.

The basis of the sentence being overturned seems to be that the jury was not aware that an individual juror could consider evidence that a death penalty was inappropriate. They instead were told that they all had to agree on that evidence.

What about all the new, potentially exculpatory, evidence that has allegedly been uncovered? Just recently, the National Academy of Sciences, came out with a report that could put much of the ballistic evidenced in doubt. There's also the statement that the judge made that he was going to 'Help them fry that <expletive>', perhaps also adding to the idea that Mumia's political views were being put on trial as much as he was. These would have to be brought up at a separate action, so says Judith Ritter in an interview with Democracy Now.

I wonder why the DA, and the city of Philadelphia as whole, don't put this all to rest. The likely sentence would be life without parole, and that would likely mean Mumia would fade into obscurity.

As much as radicals and revolutionaries have kept this nearly 30-year old case in the headlines, the officers widow has also played a role in this. I can understand her feelings about the loss of her husband, but I wonder how much of of that pain has been transformed into a desire to take 'an eye for an eye'.

Finally, this case continues to bring up a dark chapter of Philadelphia's history. When the police were seen as at war with African-Americans by many. The culminiation of this may have been the botched 1985 bombing of the headquarters of the radical group MOVE. Closing this case may finally bring that chapter to its end.


In His Own Words. . .


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