Rage Against the Machine guitarist Tom Morello called yesterday's Philadelphia court judge's decision to throw out a death sentence against journalist Mumia Abu-Jamal "a cause for celebration."
"The overturning of Mumia Abu-Jamal's death sentence is a tremendous victory for the cause of justice," said Morello, who has been a vocal supporter of Abu-Jamal for years. "The noose has been removed from this political prisoner's neck for the time being thanks in large measure to persistent public outcry. Remember this is a case that is being tried both in the courts and in the streets."
Abu-Jamal was convicted in 1982 of the 1981 killing of Philadelphia police officer Daniel Faulkner. According to the prosecution, Abu-Jamal's brother was pulled over by Faulkner and the two engaged in a scuffle. Abu-Jamal, a former Black Panther, was charged with rushing to the scene and shooting Faulkner in the back. The officer returned fire, hitting Abu-Jamal once in the chest, and according to testimony, Abu-Jamal shot Faulkner four more times. He was convicted and sentenced in July 1982.
The ruling, handed down by U.S. District Court Judge William Yohn, orders a new sentencing hearing to be held within the next 180 days, or a life sentence in prison would be instituted by default. Yohn said that the jury which handed down the guilty verdict and death sentence was not properly instructed by the presiding judge on the consideration of mitigating circumstances. Yohn rejected Abu-Jamal's request for a new trial.