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Thursday
Dec082011

Former Black Panther Mumia Abu-Jamal No Longer Facing Death Penalty

David J. Sams/Getty Images(PHILADELPHIA) -- Mumia Abu-Jamal is off death row for good.

The former Black Panther was convicted of the December 1981 slaying of a white Philadelphia police officer after Abu-Jamal's brother was stopped for driving down a street the wrong way.

His case became a cause célèbre over the years for death penalty opponents who have insisted that Abu-Jamal was innocent of the murder.  The death row inmate, whose executions were put off in 1995 and 1999, helped lead his own movement from his jail cell.

On Wednesday, Seth Williams, the district attorney for Philadelphia, decided that Abu-Jamal will no longer face capital punishment but instead will spend the rest of life behind bars without the chance of parole.

Williams contends that the punishment meted out to Abu-Jamal was just but that carrying out the execution had become too arduous, especially after a judge ruled earlier this year that Abu-Jamal was entitled to a new sentence hearing because instructions presented to a jury in 1982 may have been flawed.

Maureen Faulkner, the widow of slain police officer Daniel Faulkner, also said that she no longer had the fortitude to see Abu-Jamal pay for his crime because of the physical and emotional toll the efforts have taken on family members.

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