Judge Throws Officer Faulkner's Widow Out Of Courtroom, Grants Killer Extension
Philadelphia, PA – A judge threw the widow of murdered Philadelphia Police Officer Daniel Faulkner out of the courtroom on Monday after she protested the judge’s decision to allow her husband’s killer another 30 days to work on his appeal.
Officer Faulkner stopped a vehicle, driven by Mumia Abu-Jamal’s brother, for driving the wrong way down a one-way street on Dec. 9, 1981, according to ODMP.
As Officer Faulkner was attempting to take the driver into custody, Abu-Jamal came running from a parking lot across the street and opened fire on the 25-year-old police officer from behind.
Although he had been shot in the back four times, Officer Faulkner was able to return fire, striking the suspect.
Abu-Jamal, though hit, was able to continue shooting, and stood over the wounded officer and shot him in the face, according to ODMP.
Officer Faulkner’s killer tried to flee, but collapsed several feet away from the fallen officer, gun in hand.
Abu-Jamal, a member of the Black Panthers, was convicted of the murder of Officer Faulkner in two separate trials and sentenced to death.
But his attorneys were able to have the death sentence changed to a life sentence in 2011 through a series of appeals.
Then they appealed again, on the basis that one of the state supreme court justices who heard his appeal had been district attorney during the time that office was working on Abu-Jamal’s case. The defense said he should have recused himself, the Philadelphia Inquirer reported.
The goal of Abu-Jamal’s attorneys now is to have a review of his appeals by a higher state court, and possibly even get a new trial 38 years after the now 64-year-old killer murdered a young police officer in cold blood.
They want to have his previous appeal attempts vacated so he can once again appeal his case, KYW-TV reported.
Maureen Faulkner, Officer Faulkner’s widow, was in the Philadelphia courtroom on Monday when Common Pleas Court Judge Leon Tucker gave her husband’s killer 30 more days to work on his appeal, the Philadelphia Inquirer reported.
"With all due respect, your honor, I have another 30 days that I have to go through this pain and suffering?" Maureen Faulkner asked when Tucker announced his decision.
The widow had traveled from California to be present in the courtroom for the hearing that took place on her birthday.
Abu-Jamal was not present, and remained in the State Correctional Institution-Mahanoy in Schuylkill County.
The Philadelphia Inquirer reported that sheriff’s deputies tried to calm Maureen Faulkner down as she began yelling at the judge.
"I've been fighting back and forth!" she told him, furious.
"Have a seat," Tucker said.
"I have been fighting!" Maureen Faulkner insisted.
"Please remove her from the courtroom," Tucker ordered the court officers.
"Thirty-eight years!" Faulkner yelled as she was escorted out. "This is wrong!"
"The courtroom is sensitive to both sides,” the judge told the courtroom after the victim’s wife was removed. "The court is not going to rush to judgment in this matter."
"So, just to be clear, no matter how long it takes, this court is going to do the right thing,” Tucker said.
"It's difficult," the judge added. "I'll be candid. It's a difficult case."
Abu-Jamal’s attorneys convinced the judge to grant the delay because they claim there is a memo missing from the file that was supposedly written by then District Attorney Ronald Castille that showed he had a significant role in pushing for the death penalty against the Black Panther, the Philadelphia Inquirer reported.
They asked for the extension to have time to locate the memo.
The defense has referred to a 2016 U.S. Supreme Court ruling in a different case as precedent, in which a majority of the justices found that then-State Supreme Court Justice Castille had been wrong not to have recused himself from an appeal by another convicted Philadelphia killer, according to the Philadelphia Inquirer.
Maureen Faulkner apologized outside the courtroom for her behavior toward the judge.
"My emotions got the best of me," the widow said. "I mean, when is this case going to end for us?"
“I was very disappointed today. I really thought that Leon Tucker was going to make a decision today, and it was very emotional for me,” Faulkner told KYW.
Her lifelong friend Joan Fisher said the explosion was a result of Maureen Faulkner suffering years of frustration.
“I think there’s been so many years of this pent up and what appeared to be unfair and it was the straw that broke the camel’s back — she is entitled to let them know, that she’s been dealing with this her entire adult life,” Fisher told KYW.
Officer Faulkner’s widow has been flying back and forth between California and Philadelphia on a monthly basis to attend hearings for years.
Abu-Jamal’s case has been a hot-button for supporters of law enforcement, as critics of the criminal justice system have made the cop killer a poster boy for system reform.
Supporters of the cop killer protested outside the courthouse during the hearing on Monday, and targeted Officer Faulkner’s widow.
KYW reported that demonstrators tried to block a van Maureen Faulkner was in from leaving the courthouse after the hearing.