-Janet Coates. (Black) Indicated that she would be biased against police and that she had listened to Jamal on the radio. (N.T. 6/7/82, 129-30)
-Alma Austin (Stipulated to being black at 1995 PCRA hearing.) Expressed strong feelings against the death penalty. (N.T. 6/8/82, 2.51-54)
-Verna Brown (Black) Stated that she had listened to Jamal on the radio. (N.T. 6/8/82, 3.242-245)
-Beverly Green (Race unknown. At the 1995 PCRA hearing Mr. Weinglass stated that he would verify that Ms Green was black, but later removed her from the witness list and withdrew the claim) Hesitant in answering the prosecutor's questions. (N.T. 6/8/82, 3.242-245)
-Genevieve Gibson (Black) Listened to Jamal on the radio. (N.T. 6/10/82, 4.78)
-Webster Riddick (Black) Expressed "strong reservations" about the death penalty. (N.T.6/10/82, 4.222-224)
-Carl Lash (Black) Stated that he had formerly been a "prison counselor". (N.T. 6/11/82, 5.105, 110-111, 113-114)
-Gwendolyn Spady (Black) Stated that she had listened to Jamal on the radio. (N.T. 6/15/82, 111-13)
-Wayne Williams (Black) Stated that he had listened to Jamal on the radio. (N.T. 6/15/82, 171-173)
-Henry McCoy (Black) Stated that his daughter worked at a radio station with Jamal. (N.T. 6/15/82, 223-225)
-Darlene Sampson (Stipulated that she was black at 1995 PCRA hearing.) Stated that she had listened to Mr. Jamal on the radio, that she had strong feelings against the Death Penalty and that she "could not be fair if the trial was a long one". (N.T. 6/16/82, 276, 281-291, 293-297)
Jamal’s jury started with three blacks not two. One was removed after she violated the strict sequestration order. According to the disobedient juror "I don’t care what Judge Sabo or anybody says. I do what I have to do. Nobody is going to stop me.
The Judge had no choice but to remove her. And it should be noted that Jamal himself struck an "acceptable" African-American from the jury pool. Furthermore, no advocate for Jamal has ever proven that Prosecutor McGill struck jurors due to their race. Bennett’s opinion of "striking racism"is simply his opinion that no court has substantiated.
And of course one should be reminded that this statement was being made to a jury that had already unanimously convicted Jamal of first-degree murder.
No doubt the DA got off lucky on that one. Nevertheless, it is likely that the overwhelming amount of evidence pointing to Jamal’s actual guilt played a role in two courts denying Jamal’s petition.
The Judge was not being asked to rule on the "unfairness" of the original trial but rather or not Jamal’s defense could bring forth new information that would call for a reversal of the jurors choice of guilt and the jurors sentence of death. While the Judge’s ill-tempered nature has been dually recorded, so to has it been that Jamal’s legal team failed to prove their case to anyone outside of the sectarian left.
During the 1995 hearings, even the mainstream Philadelphia Inquirer wrote that the "behavior of the judge in the case was disturbing the first time around—and in hearings last week he did not give the impression to those in the courtroom of fair mindedness. Instead, he gave the impression, damaging in the extreme, of undue haste and hostility toward the defense's case."
Mr. Bennet may not do so well to be quoting the Philadelphia Inquirer. Although the newspaper and it’s sister paper the Philadelphia Daily News poured criticism on Judge Sabo, both papers contend that Jamal is guilty of murdering Officer Faulkner. Also, it should be noted that no legal body has seen fit to spew reproach upon the tough-as-nails judge who was clearly in no mood to see a re-creation of Jamal’s stalling tactics, albeit this time enabled by a team of idealogically driven attorneys.
Gary Wakshul and the False Confession Arguably the strongest evidence against Mumia was suspiciously introduced two months after his arrest. When interviewed (in February, 1982) by the police Internal Affairs Bureau investigating Mumia's police brutality complaint, Officers Wakshul, Bell, and hospital security guard Priscilla Durham then reported Mumia's supposed "hospital confession" for the first time.
This is the long standing argument of the Mumia supporters that there exists a long-standing police conspiracy to frame Jamal. The issue was essentially put to rest in 1982, but almost as a means of self-flagellation or desperation, Jamal’s supporters continue to claim the confession was false to this day.
So what was said in court by the security guard and African-American Priscilla Durham about the confession?
Defense counsel: Now you heard a voice say-correct me if I am wrong-"Yeah I shot the motherfucker and I hope he dies?"
The confession, as damning as it was to Jamal, was by no means the linchpin to the prosecutors case. Witnesses can lie, evidence does not and it was the evidence that convicted Jamal.
Mumia allegedly declared (in the presence of 15-20 other cops that have never confirmed it): "I shot the motherfucker and I hope the motherfucker dies!"
How many ways does Bennet want to have it? Either there is an overarching conspiracy to kill Mumia which reaches to at least the top level of the Philly PD or there isn’t. Certainly, if this were the case the alleged, or rather imagined "15-20" other cops could be more readily inducted into the conspiracy than could a civilian, African-American, security guard.Testifying in 1982, Bell (Faulkner's partner and "best friend") claimed the two month mental lapse resulted from being so upset about Faulkner’s death.
To be fair, Officer Bell is a weak witness. He conceded that from December 9, 1981-February 25, 1982 he had told no one about the confession. Bell may have been truthful when he explained that he "wasn’t thinking clearly at the time" and the emotional tumult of seeing his dead friend and co-worker had blocked his professional instincts. Or maybe he was lying. It is hard to say. But what is true is that his story is corroborated by Durham and that is something that the defense cannot get around.
At trial, Durham contradicted her statement to police and testified that she reported the confession to her supervisor the next day. While neither her supervisor or the alleged hand-written statement were presented in court, the DA sent an officer to the hospital--returning with a suspicious typed version of the alleged report. Sabo accepted the paper (not signed or dated) despite both Durham’s disavowal of it (because it was typed and not hand-written) and the defense’s protest that there was no establishment of authorship or authenticity.
If one reads the trial transcript one can see that Mrs. Durham does not contradict herself. She is as clear as to the nature of the written statement as she is to hearing the confession. What you do see if you read the transcripts is Jamal’s attorney desperate to trip up a very damaging witness who sticks to the core of her story. She heard a confession and she made a report of it. Bottom line. Just read her testimony for yourself as she is being cross-examined by Jamal’s attorney
Q. Show it to the witness, please. Read it, Miss Durham. You've had an opportunity to review D-14 [the statement]; is that correct?
Q. Earlier when I questioned you with regard to the statement that you perhaps gave to your supervisor at Jefferson Hospital you indicated that you dictated a statement orally; is that correct?
Q. Is that the statement?
Jackson then gets Durham to admit that her report was originally taken down in handwriting, and that she didn't recall reading it or signing it. So, Jackson concluded, you don't really know if this is your report, right? Durham responded, "I'd know if I said it." Jackson tried again
Q. So any statement that would be presented to you that purports to be your statement would be a guess on your part. Is that right?
Q. It wouldn't be a guess?
A. I'd know if I said it or not.
Q. You would know word for word what you said?
Q. So how would you know if it was your statement, ma'am?
A. Because I know what I said.
Q. Now, would you read the next statement, the next line?
A. "Miss Durham stated that Jamal shouted 'Yeah, I shot the mother fucker and I hope he dies.'"
Q. You said that on December 10, 1981?
A. Yes, I did.
So, it turns out that the statement was not a fake at after all. It was merely a typewritten copy of Durham's own report, as she herself unequivocally testified.
Unfortunately, the jury never heard the most explosive evidence discrediting the confession. While the DA called Bell and Durham to testify, Wakshul was suspiciously absent. On the final day of testimony in 1982, Mumia's lawyer discovered Wakshul's statement from Dec.9—the morning of the shooting. After riding with Mumia to the hospital and guarding him until his treatment, Wakshul reported: "the negro male made no comment."
It is true that Wakshul did sign a report indicating that "the negro male made no comment" back in 1981. He did not testify during the 1982 hearing, but if he had as he did in the PCRA hearing, his testimony would not have helped Jamal.
During the PCRA hearings he attempted to rebound from this by stating the following:
" I was mentally alert when I assisted in getting Mr. Jamal into the hospital and placing him on the floor. At that point Mr. Jamal, there was some discussions, some talk going all around, but I heard Mr. Jamal say I shot him and I hope the mother-fucker dies. I was stunned at that point. I stumbled back into a little alcove and started to cry. Covered myself by going outside, closing up the wagon and getting myself together.
I then went back into the hospital at some period after that. And I have... very little recollection of anything that happened after that point except for some snapshots in my mind of seeing Danny Faulkner's dead feet lying on a gurney, of, of standing next to someplace where I saw Mr. Jamal, and then leaving."
This sounds reasonable, but again there is the issue of the fact that he, like Bell, still did not report the confession till months later.
So let us say, for argument’s sake, that these friends and co-workers of Officer Faulkner lied about the confession, this still leaves the rather unimpeachable Durham. And than even if you want to remove the confession from the equation all together, the evidence against Jamal is still damning.
The Ballistics At the PCRA hearings, defense ballistics expert George Fassnacht testified that he declined a request to assist Mumia’s defense in 1982 because the court-allocated $150 was insufficient. Subsequently the defense never presented their own specialist. While testifying that the fatal bullet was probably the same caliber as Mumia's gun (legally purchased after his Taxi was repeatedly robbed), Fassnacht challenged the prosecution's 1982 evidence in two key ways.
Wait a minute. For years at protests, and on countless flyers, and still on websites ,we are told that the gun that killed Officer Faulkner was a .44 caliber handgun. Now we have Bennet by way of Jamal’s own ballistics expert admitting that the fatal bullet came from a gun that was of the same type as Jamal’s. This is a rather large coup that gives credence to the prosecution’s contention that Jamal was the killer. Even Jamal’s prior attorney, Dan Williams had to admit as much in his book on the case. And while it is true that Jamal legally purchased the gun he shot Officer Faulkner with, he was not liscensed to wear it concealed.
Jamal purchased the weapon in June of 1979 when he was still a "journalist" and was working at radio station WUHY. He was no cabdriver at the time, but he was becoming more involved with MOVE and it’s violent ideology and leader John Africa.. It was due to his poor performance and no doubt growing dedication to MOVE that caused Jamal to lose his job at WUHY in either the beginning or middle of 1981. It was at this time that an increasingly despondent Jamal saw his relationship with his wife and his career fall apart. Due to his personal and professional failings, he was forced to work freelance for radio station WDAS. Not able to make ends meet he than began to work as a cabdriver. He carried the gun illegally and I have yet to see any proof that he was ever robbed while working as a cabdriver.
Fassnacht defined "particular" and "general" rifling characteristics. "Particular" traits are "the small stria or scratches which identify a particular bullet" as coming from one specific gun. In contrast, "general" traits can only link a bullet to a particular type of gun.
Fassnacht failed in nearly every respect to discredit the prosecution’s case. In fact, he probably helped it. He was not able to discredit the fact that the gun found next to Jamal at the crime scene was in fact the one that Jamal had purchased in 1979. He was not able to counter the charge that all of the rounds from Jamal’s weapon had been fired. He could not discredit the prosecutors claim that the bullet that killed Officer Faulkner was consistent with one of the two types of bullets manufactured by Federal Brand ammunition. Interestingly enough, the type of bullet that killed Officer Faulkner was, at the time, disallowed from police usage because of the spectacular amount of damage it caused.
Police experts have always said that the fatal bullet was too damaged to link the "particular" traits to Mumia's 38 caliber Charter Arms revolver.
True. But again Bennet wants to have it both ways. One could reason that if there were some overarching conspiracy that a bullet more consistent with Jamal’s guilt could be found and introduced.
Fassnacht noted an unexplainable contradiction in police ballistic expert Anthony Paul's original report. Paul first describes the bullet's "general" traits as "indeterminable." Contradicting himself in the same report, Paul later identified a general trait: a "right-hand direction of twist." Paul's 1982 testimony went further by identifying another general trait never mentioned in his written report "8 lands and 8 grooves."
What else Fassnacht said at trial was that "he would not have been unable to opine that (Jamal) did not shoot Officer Faulker".
This defense "expert" didn’t even bother looking at any of the physical evidence in the case, perform any ballistic experimentation, look at photographs, or even so much as read the original trial transcript (something many a Jamal supporter have yet to do either). He was, however generous enough to shoot down the .44 caliber hoax that the Jamal devotees had been fronting on for years. Finally, the Judge ruled that "the witness could not demonstrate that any of the ballistics evidence submitted at trial was false or incorrect".
Police did not officially perform two basic forensics tests—the "smell" and "wipe" tests. It is standard to "smell" the gun's barrel for gunpowder (which can be smelled up to 4 or 5 hours after discharge). The "wipe test" checks for gunshot residue on suspects' hands and clothing.
Here again, Bennet wants it every which way. Police conspirators could have very easily said "yep I smelled it and it smelled of gunpowder" and than could have just as easily wiped up some residue and claimed it as proof positive. However, under the circumstances with two guns at the scene, one lying near the dead officer, and one lying near a wounded man grasping for it, one can easily summerize that the police either did not feel the tests necessary. Or more likely, in the heat of emotion neglected to do the tests.Quoting Amnesty International:
"the failure of the police to test Abu-Jamal’s gun, hands, and clothing is deeply troubling." Most likely, police did perform the tests, but hid this when the results did not implicate Mumia. This obvious ballistics manipulation seriously challenges the credibility of other evidence, such as the police allegation that Mumia’s gun was at his side with five spent cartridges when police arrived.
Again Hans reaches into the AI bag of bovine excrement in order to pursue a non-issue that has been rendered a non issue by the jury and dozens of judicial entities etc..But back to Fassnacht for a moment. In a rather telling moment during the PCRA he had this exchange with the District Attorney
Q. Let me give you something that is more to the point. Whenever you have testified it's been, for all intents and purposes, to criticize the work that was done or the work that was not done by all the law enforcement agencies, police departments, what have you, in all these states; correct or incorrect?
A. Umm. I would have to say, adopting your phraseology, correct.
Q. Okay. So would it be fair to say that in virtually 100 percent of the times that you have been qualified as an expert in the field of forensic firearms expertise, you've always attacked or attempted to destroy the prosecution or the police department or the state's case?
A. I don't know that I would use the words attack and destroy. The object of any court proceeding is not to attack or destroy, it's to find the truth. And my efforts have been in that direction, I believe.
Q. Okay. And in your efforts to determine the truth, 100 percent of the time it has been for the person accused, if it's a murder, of the murder, right?
A. If it were a murder.
There is nothing else to say about Fassnacht that he does not make clear in his above statements.
In 1982, prosecutor McGill argued that Mumia had been shot in the chest from below by a falling Faulkner. Recognizing the bullet's downward trajectory McGill claimed that the bullet ricocheted off bone within Mumia’s torso and then tumbled in a downward direction. Challenging this far-fetched theory, medical examiner John Hayes testified in 1995 that X rays proved the bullet traveled without any deflection. Easily disproving the official scenario, Mumia was probably shot while running across the street towards Faulkner and his brother.
First of all there are no eyewitnesses to buttress this deceitful account. What McGill said at trial was that when two individuals are standing close together, and one points a weapon at another, if "you move" the barrel either up or down, just a little bit, that the trajectory of the bullet is subject to change.
The testimony of John Hayes is persuasive if you know nothing of the trial, the eyewitnesses, or the trial transcripts. If you are familiar with any of the above the argument as presented by Hayes is destined for the scrapheap of failed notions.
It is an established fact that Jamal was apprehended with a chest wound while sitting some feet away from Officer Faulkner’s corpse just seconds after the shooting stopped. Dr. Hayes contends that the bullet that entered Mumia’s chest and traveled downward could not have been fired by the murder victim from the ground or while he was falling.
As neat as all of this is, and as compelling it might be to a third year medical student, the fact remains that none of the eyewitnesses to the killing were able to testify as to what Officer Faulkner’s exact position was when he returned Jamal’s fire. The only people to say that Jamal was shot while running to the scene were Jamal and his brother via their affidavits. None of the eyewitnesses to the crime corroborate this claim.
Veronica Jones Exposes Coerced Testimony Veronica Jones' 1996 PCRA testimony exposed police coercion of witnesses and further discredited the the 1982 testimony of the DA's star witness: prostitute Cynthia White (the only one to actually testify to seeing Abu-Jamal pull the trigger).
Here again, Bennet is playing lose with words and looser with facts. Chobert may not have seen Jamal actually "pull the trigger" but his twice affirmed testimony stated unequivocally that "I know who shot the cop and I ain’t going to forget it." Chobert certainly wasn’t talking about Arnold Beverly. And it was Cynthia White who said "I looked across the street in the parking lot and I noticed he (Jamal) was running out of the parking lot and he was practically on the curb when he shot two times at the police officer. It was the back. The police officer turned around and staggered and seemed like he was grabbing for something. Then he fell. Then he came over and he came on top of the officer ans shot him some more times. After that he went over and he slouched down and sat on the curb."
This testimony by White corroborated the ballistics evidence as well as that of the other eyewitnesses.
The story begins on Dec.15, 1981 when Jones (a prostitute who was working nearby on Dec.9) first told police that she had seen two men "jogging" away from the crime scene before police arrived. Testifying in 1982, Jones recanted and denied ever making the statement. However, when asked if she had talked to the police since her first statement, Jones testified that police had visited her in jail the next month:
By her own admission Jones was smoking weed all day (something Mr. Bennett knows quite a lot about). Jones did not claim to see the shooting. She had merely "heard shots". Moreover, she recanted her pre-trial testimony of seeing two men jogging away from the scene of the crime, not that it mattered as we will see later. Her testimony was riddled with apparent contradictions and was rendered inconsequential. Either she saw a cop fall (pre-trial account) or saw a cop lying on the sidewalk (trial account). Obviously, the jury found her to be an incredible witness. But what of her story of coercion?"
They were getting on me telling me I was in the area and I seen Mumia, you know, do it...They were trying to get me to say something that the other girl [Cynthia White] said. I couldn't do that." Jones reported that police offered to let her and White "work the area if we tell them."
According to the gospel of Mumia, Jones was offered a "deal" in which she was to "name Mr.Jamal as the shooter". She could not identify the officers who allegedly offered her the deal nor could she remember whether or not she told the police that she would go along with the corrupt plan. Despite the alleged police coercion and intimidation Jones claims that her 1982 trial testimony was truthful except when she swore that "she didn’t see two men leave, umm, run away, leave the scene." And if there was a deal it didn’t work out well for Cynthia White who allegedly took it. She was arrested numerous times after testifying for the prosecution and is now deceased.
For her part, Veronica Jones, during the PCRA hearings in 1996 was caught in several lies and even reported seeing the long dead Cynthia White getting into a truck with a police officer. She attempted to explain away her "memory" problems on heavy drug use. Not surprisingly, a unanimous court ruled that:
"Thus in spite of the fact that Ms. Jones gave a statement shortly after the incident describing two men jogging across Locust Street to within two or three steps of the fallen officer, her claim that the two men were actually running away from the scene is of no moment."
This ruling is especially pertinent because Jones cannot get it straight whether or not she looked towards the scene of the crime seconds or several minutes after the shooting. A fact that was compounded by her extreme distance from the crime and visual impediments that would have obstructed her view.
The testimony of Jones, contradictory, confusing, changing and disturbingly incredible, was rightly rejected by the court. Even if everything she claimed were true, she would not be an exculpatory witness for the defense.
The same coercion of witnesses by police, DA, and judge exposed by Jones' story was rampant in Mumia's case. Documented by Amnesty International, witnesses Cynthia White (a prostitute facing multiple charges) and Robert Chobert (an arsonist on probation, driving his cab intoxicated and without a license) also "altered their descriptions of what they saw, in ways that supported the prosecution's version of events."
Is the AI the final word on Jamal’s case? I am guessing not considering their shoddy report has been effectively eviscerated as a one-sided and factually deficient embarrassment to an otherwise well-respected human rights group. Chobert has never reported being coerced by police and neither did the now deceased White. Chobert was unrelenting and unwavering in his testimony in both the PCRA hearing and Jamal’s original trial. He was not without a license, his license was suspended and the DA did nothing to aid in Chobert getting his license re-instated.
And while Chobert’s testimony varied in some minor respects to that of other witnesses, the essential element of the central event resonated throughout Chobert’s testimony as it did the other eyewitnesses.
When asked by DA McGill whether there was "any doubt" in his mind as to who the shooter of Officer Faulkner was, Chobert was unambiguous in his statement "no there ain’t."
It is true that Chobert was on probation for an arson he had committed when he was 18 years old. Again, there is no proof that his testimony provided him any relief in his legal predicament and his consistent testimony at the PCRA trial only reaffirmed his credibility.
Bennet’s phrasing of his claims insinuates that Chobert was driving his cab while "intoxicated". After looking through both the PCRA transcripts and the original trial transcripts I cannot find any evidence of this being the case. Chobert, did have two prior convictions for DUI, but nobody aside from Bennet has made the assertion that Chobert was intoxicated the night he saw Jamal shoot Officer Faulkner.
I'm Going To Help Them Fry The Nigger" In 2001 another witness—Terri Mauer-Carter—challenged Sabo's integrity, but the State Supreme Court ruled against the defense's right to include her affidavit in their current federal appeal. Mauer-Carter was working as a stenographer in the Philadelphia Court system on the eve of Mumia's 1982 trail when she states that she overheard judge Sabo say in reference to Mumia's case that he was going to help the prosecution "fry the nigger." Journalist Dave Lindorff recently interviewed Mauer-Carter's former boss, Richard Klein, who was with Mauer-Carter when she states she overheard Sabo. A Philadelphia Common Pleas Court judge at the time, who now sits on PA's Superior Court, Klein told Lindorff: "I won't say it did happen, and I won't say it didn't. That was a long time ago." Lindorff considers Klein's refusal to firmly reject Mauer-Carter's claim to be an affirmation of her statement. The State Supreme Court ruling was an affirmation of lower-level Judge Patricia Dembe's argument that even if Maurer-Carter is correct about Sabo's stated intent to use his position as Judge to throw the trial and help the prosecution "fry the nigger," it doesn't matter. According to Dembe, since it "was a jury trial, as long as the presiding Judge's rulings were legally correct, claims as to what might have motivated or animated those rulings are not relevant."
Although I have gone over Mauer-Carter’s affidavit and issues pertaining to her motivations I think it worth doing so again.
Jamal’s defense is contending that Judge Sabo confessed in the company of at least three people that he was going to help "fry the nigger," . A rather injudicious comment to be made in public and one not likely to be made by an experienced judge who had presided over dozens of capital trials.The Third Circuit courts have allowed this brief and both the NAACP Legal Defense Fund and The National Lawyers Guild have filed (amicus) briefs of their own which sit in support of that of Jamal’s.
The racist comment was reportedly heard by a court stenographer in a robing room prior to jury selection. The stenographer, a Ms. Terri Maruer-Carter has some serious credibility issues pertaining to her claim. Most strikingly, she did not come forward with her information until August of 2001. As an acclaimed and accredited officer of the court, Ms. Carter had to know full well the implications of what she claimed to have heard and should have been professionally, if not morally obligated to tell someone, anyone, about what she allegedly heard. She provides no evidence that she did that until 2001.
Also, her affidavit is noticeably vague and rather short on details.
Perhaps a reason for this is the fact that Ms. Carter is no stranger to radical politics in the Philadelphia area, was opposed to the death penalty, and therefore had at least some motivation to falsify a statement in order to keep someone from being executed. To date their has been no corroboration of Carter’s assertion.
Although, to be fair, not-so-independent journalist, Dave Lindorff has reportedly interviewed one of the people alleged to be with Carter at the time, her former boss.
According to Lindorff, Judge Richard Klein had this to say about the incident "I won’t say it did happen and I wont say it didn’t. That was a long time ago." Judge Klein now sits on the PA Superior Court.
So, in 2001, Jamal’s attorneys filed Carter’s affidavit and the judge came back with a striking verdict to the defense’s motion. It was dismissed on the ground that a higher court - the Pa. Supreme Court - had already ruled that there was no racist judicial bias visible in the trial record.
Now, with Judge Sabo deceased, it appears that three people know what happened in the robing room that day. One of whom waited two decades to come forward with the information, the other allegedly is offering only vague statements on the issue, and we do not know the identity or view of the other. That being the case, any Judge would be hard pressed to grant Jamal relief under such circumstances.