Though the outcome for Troy Davis was a tragic one, death penalty detractors saw a victory this week when the United States Supreme Court denied the Philadelphia District Attorney’s petition to reinstate the death penalty for Mumia Abu-Jamal.
The Associated Press reports that Philadelphia prosecutors will have to pursue a second death penalty sentence for Mumia, who was convicted of killing police officer Daniel Faulkner in 1982.
The Court found that the death penalty instructions were potentially misleading.
“At long last, the profoundly troubling prospect of Mr. Abu-Jamal facing an execution that was produced by an unfair and unreliable penalty phase has been eliminated,” said John Payton, president of the NAACP Legal Defense & Educational Fund. “Our system should never condone an execution that stems from a trial in which the jury was improperly instructed on the law.”
The decision upholds a 2001 ruling by U.S. District Judge William H. Yohn Jr., first ruled that Abu-Jamal deserved a new sentencing hearing due to of flawed jury instructions regarding aggravating and mitigating factors.
Abu-Jamal, a former Black Panther, has spent almost 30 years on Death Row.