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Mumia Abu-Jamal, imprisoned since 1982, is petitioning a Pennsylvania court for a new trial after unearthed evidence casts skepticism on his verdict.
On Wednesday, his legal defense will petition in regards to six filing boxes marked with Abu-Jamal’s name that were found in a storage room in the Philadelphia district attorney’s office in December 2018. The existence of the boxes were disclosed to Abu-Jamal’s lawyers the following month.
Abu-Jamal’s defense team states that the DA’s office withheld evidence that would have cast doubt on the credibility of two key witnesses and that the trial prosecutor relied on race to decide which jurors to strike.
In the boxes were the handwritten notes that McGill kept as he was filtering out possible jurors for the trial during jury selection.
The notes show that the prosecutor placed a large letter “B” next to any prospective juror who was Black. During jury selection, McGill struck 15 people from the pool – 10 were Black and five non-Black.
His lawyers, Judith Ritter and Samuel Spital, argue in the petition that the boxes contained “highly significant evidence which the commonwealth never previously disclosed.” The new evidence shows that their client’s conviction was tainted.
According to The Guardian, the hearing could be one Abu-Jamal’s last attempts at freedom after more than 40 years behind bars, including two decades on death row, for the murder of a white police officer – a crime for which he has always insisted he is innocent.
Abu-Jamal was convicted of murdering Daniel Faulkner on December 9, 1981 in Philadelphia. At about 4am that morning the prisoner’s younger brother, William Cook, was stopped in his car by the police officer.
Abu-Jamal, then working as a taxi driver, coincidentally passed them by and came to his brother’s assistance. A shooting spree ensued and Faulkner was shot and killed while Abu-Jamal was also shot in the stomach.
He was put on trial in 1982, found guilty and sentenced to death. Despite worldwide support and multiple appeals to overturn his conviction, all attempts to free Abu-Jamal have failed to date.
This is developing. Read the full story at The Guardian.