PHILADELPHIA (AP) - Death row inmate Mumia Abu-Jamal has been denied a chance for a new trial in the 1981 killing of a police officer.
Common Pleas Judge Pamela Dembe said Wednesday she does not have jurisdiction over a petition for a new trial filed by Abu-Jamal, a former Black Panther and radio journalist convicted in the murder of Officer Daniel Faulkner.
Abu-Jamal argued that his former lawyers did a poor job and that he has new evidence that could clear him. The death row inmate's federal appeal is still pending.
Faulkner, 25, was killed after he pulled over Abu-Jamal's brother in a downtown traffic stop.
Celebrities, death-penalty opponents and foreign politicians have rallied to Abu-Jamal's cause, calling him a political prisoner and saying he was railroaded by a racist justice system.
``The only thing that (the judge) has done is expose the conspiracy by this government to commit cold-blooded, premeditated murder,'' said Philadelphia activist Pam Africa.
Assistant District Attorney Hugh Burns praised Dembe's decision, but said other Abu-Jamal appeals will keep the case tied up in court.
Abu-Jamal exhausted his state appeals two years ago, but a petition filed in September argued his lawyers have important new evidence, including another man's confession to the slaying.
In a 1999 affidavit, a man named Arnold Beverly claimed he was hired by the mob to kill Faulkner because the officer had interfered with mob payoffs to police.
Abu-Jamal's former lawyers, Leonard Weinglass and Daniel R. Williams, said they don't think the confession was credible. A federal judge refused to order Beverly to testify on Abu-Jamal's behalf.
Abu-Jamal argued he should be entitled to another state appeal because the attorneys denied him the right to effective counsel.
Prosecutors have argued that Abu-Jamal's request for a new appeal was not filed in time because he knew about the Beverly petition two years ago.
The judge in the case called Beverly's confession into question.
``Witnesses who recant and witnesses who mysteriously appear long after trial are regarded with suspicion by the courts,'' Dembe wrote.
On the Net:
Abu-Jamal supporters: www.mumia.org
Faulkner supporters: www.danielfaulkner.com