Maureen Faulkner has been fighting a battle that started in 1981, and it is still going.
The widow of murdered Philadelphia Police Officer Danny Faulkner is now going to the state’s highest court in the hopes that the case will be handed off to the Pennsylvania attorney general.
Faulkner has continued to claim severe conflicts of interest in the case. Her attorney, George Bochetto, has since filed a King’s Bench petition, asking the Pennsylvania Supreme Court to disqualify Philadelphia District Attorney Larry Krasner from handling Mumia Abu-Jamal’s appeal.
“By statute it would then automatically revert to the Attorney General’s Office,” said Bochetto.
Abu-Jamal was convicted nearly four decades ago of killing Officer Faulkner, and the controversial case has been playing out for years at the appellate level.
Bochetto claims the case is chock-full of conflicts of interest, since the head of the appeals unit, Paul George, is a former defense attorney for Abu-Jamal, and now, he oversees the office that deals with the appeal. In addition, Krasner’s wife’s old law firm used to represent Abu-Jamal.
According to Bochetto, a paralegal in the office was an avid supporter of the Friends of Mumia group.
Standing in front of a crowd of her supporters, Maureen Faulkner said prosecutors told her there was no assistant district attorney assigned to her murdered husband’s case.
“He does not understand what the victims are going through,” she said. “I felt fear for the City of Philadelphia and what was going to become of the city, with this man in office.”
The battle has just begun, she said.
“If they hear it, we are asking they enter a ruling disqualifying the Philadelphia district’s entire office, the attorney’s office, from handling any further matters in this case,” Bochetto added. “We will not rest until we get this issue heard.”
A spokeswoman for the district attorney says Paul George has never had any involvement with Abu-Jamal’s appeal because of “his prior work with (Abu-Jamal).”
She also says it is “not true” that there is no assigned prosecutor as Maureen Faulkner has claimed, and that supervisor Nancy Winkleman is assigned to the case.
Bochetto said if the state’s highest court doesn’t hear the matter, they will go to the Supreme Court.
Krasner said he hasn’t read the petition.
In December, a new appeal hearing was granted.
Because former Chief Justice Ronald Castille, who originally heard the appeal, was Philadelphia District Attorney when Abu-Jamal was prosecuted.
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But apparently that was enough to make a difference. He wasn’t directly involved in the trial. He wasn’t asked to recuse himself.
Krasner had fought the decision, stating that it could overturn a large number of convictions in the city if they were to proceed.
He later withdrew his opposition.
Let’s go over the evidence again.
— Mike D'Onofrio (@MikeDonofrio_) April 18, 2019
3 witnesses were able to confirm Abu-Jamal’s identity as the killer.
Ballistics was able to confirm that Abu-Jamal’s gun was the weapon that fired the rounds into Faulkner’s face and back, killing him.
But the former Black Panther has continuously denied his role in Faulkner’s death.
Judge Leon Tucker granted Mumia Abu-Jamal another opportunity to appeal his 1981 conviction.
Abu-Jamal spent three decades on death row, however, that was prior to his sentence in the shooting death of Faulkner getting tossed out over flawed jury instructions.
Long-time MOVE member Pam Africa said @philadao's decision to drop his appeal against Mumia Abu-Jamal' case was "a partial victory for the entire movement" but called on Krasner to release him as he reargues his case. "It's up to Krasner who's got worldwide attention on him." pic.twitter.com/WjBxTEcJ5c
— Mike D'Onofrio (@MikeDonofrio_) April 18, 2019
Prosecutors agreed to a sentence of life without parole, and Abu-Jamal’s final appeal was rejected by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court in 2012.
But that was then, and this is now.
The judge ruled on Thursday that former Justice Ronald Castille should have recused himself because of statements he made as a prosecutor about police killers that suggest potential bias. The news appalled Faulkner’s widow.
“I’m absolutely outraged with Leon Tucker. Tucker has no merit on this judgment. [Castille] had nothing to say about Mumia Abu-Jamal, he had no prejudice,” said Maureen Faulkner.
The comments were made in an exclusive interview on “Fox and Friends” Sunday.
“This is going to open the door for so many murderers to be able to do this and appeal this.”
During a traffic stop on a vehicle belonging to Abu-Jamal’s younger brother, William Cook, Officer Faulkner got into a physical confrontation with Cook. Abu-Jamal was in the vicinity and observed the fight. Consequently, he ran over and shot Faulkner in the back and, later, in the face.
Faulkner, who noted that she has traveled back and forth from her home state of California numerous times in this case, also said she hopes that Philadelphia District Attorney Larry Krasner will appeal this decision.
“Mumia Abu-Jamal shot my husband between the eyes, he executed my husband,” Faulkner said.
Someone needs to stand up and fight.
“I’m never going to let this go. All over the country, they’re reducing sentences on murderers, they’re allowing them out of prison, and it’s wrong. It’s so wrong.”
The Philadelphia district attorney said the decision is being reviewed, according to the Associated Press.
The police officer’s widow had a poignant message for the judge who issued the latest ruling.
“To Judge Leon Tucker: I hope you can sleep at night with the decision you made, because you know it was not the right one,” she said.
The case against Abu-Jamal, a political activist and journalist, has received international attention among death-penalty opponents and criminal justice reform advocates.
Why are we doing this? Who benefits here?
Besides the obvious… a man who belongs in jail that might walk.
Not only is the justice system basically allowing a technicality to dictate the future of a convicted killer, but even if the conviction holds strong, what did Pennsylvania officials just put this poor woman through?
Why should Maureen Faulkner have to reopen wounds after they should finally be starting to heal?
As police and supporters from around the country, we can’t allow this reversal of justice go quietly into the night. Make your voice heard!