After decades of protests, marches and public appeals, prosecutors in Philadelphia announced on Wednesday
they are dropping their pursuit of the death penalty for Mumia Abu Jamal, who was sentenced to death for killing a Philadelphia police officer in 1981. Jamal, who still stands to spend the rest of his life in jail, and his allies have been appealing his case for almost all of the three decades he's been in prison, and activists have long championed his case as a racially motivated conviction. But Wednesday's decision came not from a court order, nor because activists and lawyers changed the mind of District Attorney Seth Williams, the Associated press reported
. Rather, it appears the widow of slain Officer Daniel Faulkner persuaded prosecutors to stop seeking the death penalty over Jamal's legal challenges, because she was tired of the constant reminders the high-profile case brought. Free Mumia activists have long argued Jamal was railroaded when he was convicted of shooting Faulkner during a traffic stop, and hundreds of people frequently attend his court hearings. The AP reports:
The officer's widow, Maureen Faulkner, has tried to remain visible over the years to ensure that her husband is not forgotten. They were newlyweds when he died.
"My family and I have endured a three-decade ordeal at the hands of Mumia Abu-Jamal, his attorneys and his supporters, who in many cases never even took the time to educate themselves about the case before lending their names, giving their support and advocating for his freedom," Maureen Faulkner said. "All of this has taken an unimaginable physical, emotional and financial toll on each of us."
Williams told the AP "There's never been any doubt in my mind that Mumia Abu-Jamal shot and killed Officer Faulkner," and said the original sentence of death was appropriate. Jamal, a former activist and journalist, published several books while in prison, and remains politically active from behind bars, speaking on issues such as the recent Occupy Wall Street protests.