(en) Sabo Rules:Mumia again denied Justice

Lyn Gerry (redlyn@loop.com)
Fri, 8 Aug 1997 19:11:57 +0000

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---------- Forwarded message ---------- Date: Fri, 8 Aug 1997 14:48:15 -0700 (PDT) From: Noelle Hanrahan <radioqc@sirius.com>

Mumia Abu-Jamal Case Update: August 8, 97

On June 26th the Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas took additional testimony regarding police misconduct in Mumia's case. This hearing was ordered by the PA Supreme Court which is currently reviewing Mumia's appeal. In fact the PA Supreme has no mechanism for taking direct testimony so it must have the lower court hear new evidence.

The hearing began with Pamela Jenkins testifying before Judge Albert Sabo. Sabo (Mumia original trial judge) is responsible for more than twice as many death sentences than any other judge in the county.

And on July 24, Sabo announced his ruling on the evidence presented by Pamela Jenkins and other witnesses in the hearings held June 26th - July 1st. "Upon review and consideration of the testimony offered by Pamela Jenkins it is hereby ordered and decreed that the defendant, Mumia Abu-Jamal's petition for Post Conviction Collateral Relief is denied."

Sabo's findings are forwarded to the Pennsylvania Supreme Court which will decide whether or not to grant Mumia a new trial. That decision can come at any time; though the PA Supreme Court takes a traditional summer break, and has much to weigh in making its decision. It may be months before we know whether true justice will be granted or justice will be denied.

The real story!!!!!!

Pamela Jenkins was a key FBI witness whose 1995 testimony led to the convictions of six corrupt Philadelphia police officers. At this hearing, she revealed that one of those corrupt officers, Tom Ryan, and a detective investigating Mumia's case, Richard Ryan, had pressured her to identify Mumia as the shooter at his 1982 trial. They did this with full knowledge that she was not present when Officer Daniel Faulkner was shot. Pamela had become sexually involved with Tom Ryan in 1981, when she was just 15 years old, and she had served as his (sometimes paid) informant.

Pamela went on to detail police intimidation of Cynthia White, the only eyewitness to finger Mumia at his 1982 trial. At the time of Mumia's arrest and trial, both Jenkins and White were working as street prostitutes in center city Philadelphia.

Jenkins' recent testimony adds to the growing body of evidence that White's testimony was false and coerced by police:

In 1981, Cynthia White was a police informant and was providing her services as a prostitute to police.

White had told Jenkins back in 1982 that she was being pressured by the police regarding Mumia's case and that she feared for her life.

The police had paid Jenkins to locate White, who had disappeared prior to Mumia's original trial.

In early 1997, while assisting defense investigators in their search for White, Jenkins had seen her alive in Philadelphia in the company of Tom and Richard Ryan.

Sabo Blocks Defense Evidence

Following Jenkins' testimony, Sabo refused to hear any further evidence. Even Assistant District Attorney Arlene Fisk protested, probably fearful about leaving unchallenged this account of police misconduct from a credible FBI witness to police corruption in Philadelphia. Finally, Sabo agreed that Fisk could call additional witnesses, but barred the defense from presenting witnesses unless the prosecution agreed.

Corrupt Cop Takes Stand

Sabo did allow the defense to call Tom Ryan. The former police officer who went to prison in 1996 for criminal misconduct, which included paying Jenkins to lie at a murder trial. His testimony verified much of what Pamela had stated, including the fact that they had a sexual relationship when she was 15 years old and that she had been his informant. He denied asking her to lie in Mumia's case. Contradicting Jenkins', and his own 1995 testimony in federal court, he insisted that he did not even meet Jenkins until June of 1982, the time of Mumia's trial. The prosecution sought to bolster Ryan's switch of dates, by presenting a June 1982 truancy arrest record for Jenkins that listed him as an arresting officer.

Cynthia White Declared (but not proven) Dead

Prosecution witness and Philadelphia homicide detective Raleigh Witcher presented a 1992 Camden, New Jersey death certificate for a Cynthia Williams. Claiming a conclusive fingerprint match, he testified that he deceased was Cynthia White. With the Court's blessing, Fisk went on to declare Cynthia White dead and to charge that Jenkins testimony was "perjured".

But in fact, the documents presented by Witcher showed no fingerprint match between key witness Cynthia White and the woman who died in Camden in 1992. Outrageously, the defense was never even given a copy of any of the documents Witcher presented until after he left the stand. Yet, under cross-examination, the defense forced the detective to concede that the documents he presented were incomplete and did not include fingerprint cards from either Camden or Philadelphia.

Further, Witcher admitted that the prosecution team had been searching for White since 1995 and that he had personally searched "records both local and out of locale". Despite this admission, Sabo refused defense requests for the prosecution to turn over its complete files regarding its search for Cynthia White. Without complete documents in hand, and with Sabo refusing to allow Mumia to call other witnesses with information that White is alive, the defense could not proceed. The hearing closed on Monday June 30.

On July 1, Sabo unexpectedly reopened the proceedings. Seemingly concerned that she had not yet proved Cynthia White dead, Assistant D.A. Fisk presented more "evidence". This time, she claimed that documents from the Camden County prosecutor's office showed a fingerprint match between the deceased Camden woman and another black woman reportedly known in Camden by a few names, including "Cynthia Williams".

All this smoke and mirrors failed to prove Cynthia White dead. In fact, according to the prosecution's own exhibits, the Philadelphia fingerprint records for Cynthia White do not match the Camden records for the deceased woman. Indeed they are entirely different fingerprint classifications.

The defense filed a motion with Judge Sabo in mid-July which seeks to clarify these facts regarding fingerprint identification and detail other important evidence Mumia was barred from presenting.

Evidence Sabo barred the defense from presenting at June hearing:

Court records showing that White had been arrested at least six times in 1980 and 1981 by Philadelphia officers who were later convicted of extorting money from central city prostitutes.

Affidavits and testimony from:

Two defense investigators who had located several people who, on seeing photos of her, remembered having seen White, in Philadelphia as recently as 1997.

A witness Rut Ray, who while listed on the death certificate as the "mother of the deceased", would testify that she was not, and never claimed to be, her mother.

Pamela Jenkins' grandmother, who would testify that Pamela and Tom Ryan were already having a relationship by the fall of 1981.

A witness who, as an eyewitness to the shooting of Officer Faulkner, would have verified Jenkins statement that, according to Tom Ryan, there were several (plainclothes) police officers at the scene. Such information was never disclosed to the defense.

The transcript from a 1987 hearing into criminal charges against Cynthia White where a prosecution witness testified that when he complained to a center city officer about being assaulted by Cynthia, "the police officer knew her by her first name and said I shouldn't be messing with her".

Sabo quickly denied this information. In his twenty-page opinion, Sabo rejected every piece of testimony offered by Mumia's defense team and accepted every claim offered by the prosecution. In particular, he accepted the District Attorney's claim that the key 1982 trial witness Cynthia White was dead, based on a partial copy of a death certificate for a Cynthia Williams. This claim was substantiated solely on verbal assurances by several police officers that they had found the fingerprints of the deceased to match those of Cynthia White. Yet the fingerprints themselves were never produced and the fingerprint code on the death certificate did not match that given for Cynthia White in Philadelphia police records.

Still Sabo concluded that "Jenkins' testimony was effectively discredited by the commonwealth and conclusively proven to be fabricated. A great part of Jenkins testimony involved purported communications with and sightings of White at a time when White was deceased."

Judge Sabo also included a succinct statement of his own bias in the case, as follows: "Finally, it should be noted that the evidence against Abu-Jamal was overwhelming, including multiple eyewitness accounts, highly compelling circumstantial evidence and incriminating admissions by the Defendant." This last point is a reference to the "confession" allegedly made by Mumia the night of the shootings - a "confession" that police officers suddenly "remembered" two months after the incident.

Sabo's opinion on Pamela Jenkins' testimony will be forwarded to the Pennsylvania Supreme Court which is still considering Mumia's appeal of Judge Sabo's 1995 decision not to grant him a new trial.

What You Can Do

The defense team continues to look for Cynthia White with hopes to locate her before the Pennsylvania Supreme Court rules. Given the lengths to which the prosecution has gone to declare her dead, finding Cynthia may prove pivotal to Mumia's chances to win a new trial.

Sabo has never granted discovery in this case. Demand that Philadelphia DA Lynn Abraham - who prosecutes death cases at a rate unmatched in the nation -- open all her office's files on Mumia's case to the defense. Revelations at the June 1997 hearing make full disclosure of all police and prosecution files more warranted than ever!! Ask her what she has to hide!

District Attorney Lynne Abraham 1421 Arch Street, Philadelphia PA 19102 215-686-8700, 215-686-8024 fax

P.S. In order be on the ZAP fax alert send your email address to: radioqc@sirius.com.

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