Sabo Denies New Evidence in Mumia Case

Revolutionary Worker #918, Aug. 10, 1997

On July 24 Judge Albert Sabo announced his ruling on new evidence in the case of Mumia Abu-Jamal--presented in a dramatic hearing in Philadelphia from June 26 to July 1. In the hearing, defense witness Pamela Jenkins testified to important new evidence showing that revolutionary journalist Mumia Abu-Jamal was framed and railroaded in the 1982 trial when he was convicted and sentenced to death for the murder of Philadelphia cop Daniel Faulkner. But Judge Sabo ruled that this new evidence cannot be added to the court records in Mumia's appeal for a new trial which is now before the State Supreme Court. Mumia's attorneys will appeal this decision and the State Supreme Court could decide to overturn or uphold Sabo's decision.

This ruling is the latest injustice perpetrated by Judge Sabo--who presided over the railroad of Mumia in 1982 and has systematically sabotaged Mumia's appeal for a new trial at every turn.

As RW readers know, Mumia's post-conviction relief appeal of the conviction and death sentence is now being considered by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court. In March of this year, Mumia's lawyers presented an affidavit to the Supreme Court containing sworn testimony by Pamela Jenkins, and the state Supreme Court ordered a hearing on the testimony by Pamela Jenkins--to be held before hanging Judge Sabo.


Pamela Jenkins was a prostitute and a police informant in downtown Philadelphia when police officer Daniel Faulkner was shot in 1981. In the 1990s she was a key witness for the federal government's case against police corruption in North Philadelphia's 39th District. Over the years, the cops framed hundreds of innocent people for murder and drug charges and stole thousands of dollars. Jenkins revealed that she and other prostitutes had been paid by police to fabricate evidence. As a result of her testimony the city was forced to drop many criminal cases and pay millions of dollars in lawsuits. One of the cops who went to prison in this corruption scandal was Tom Ryan--who was involved in the frame-up of Mumia.

Jenkins' testimony in the June 26--July 1 hearings focused on how the Philadelphia police tried to coerce her into false testimony against Mumia and on the role of Cynthia White. Cynthia White was the prosecution's main witness against Mumia in the 1982 trial and the only witness who claimed to have seen Mumia with a gun in his hand approaching the policeman Daniel Faulkner the night he died in 1981. At the time Cynthia White was working that Philadelphia neighborhood as a prostitute. And she has been missing, under very mysterious circumstances, for several years.

On the stand in Sabo's court, Pamela Jenkins revealed several important facts on how Mumia was framed:

  • She testified that in 1981, when she was 15, she was recruited as a police informant and sexually exploited by the Philadelphia cop Tom Ryan. She said that two cops, Tom Ryan and Richard Ryan, tried to pressure her into testifying that she saw Mumia Abu-Jamal shoot Officer Faulkner. She said the two police knew that she had, in fact, been nowhere near the shooting. Pamela's testimony is important new evidence of a deliberate police conspiracy to frame Mumia by manufacturing perjured evidence.
  • Jenkins testified that in late 1981 Cynthia White told Jenkins that she was also being pressured to testify against Mumia, and that she was afraid for her life. Another witness, Veronica Jones, testified last fall that she had given false testimony at Mumia's 1982 trial because the police were threatening her with prison.
  • Jenkins testified that Cynthia White was already a police informant in 1981. This evidence is particularly important--because this fact was hidden from both the jury and Mumia's defense at the 1982 trial. Mumia's attorney Leonard Weinglass recently pointed out that former Panther Geronimo ji Jaga is a free man today after 27 years "because it came out in Geronimo's case that the key witness against him was an informant and that the defense was not told of that fact. That is precisely the case in Mumia's situation."
  • Finally, in unexpected testimony, Pamela Jenkins revealed that she and the defense investigator had found the missing Cynthia White in March of this year in a North Philadelphia crack house--in the company of the same two cops, Tom Ryan and Richard Ryan. The two cops fled with Cynthia White when they recognized Pamela Jenkins. This new evidence suggests that Cynthia White is not "missing"--but is being held under wraps by the police to prevent the defense from talking to her and to prevent their 1982 frameup of Mumia from coming completely unraveled.


    After Pamela testified, Judge Sabo refused to allow Mumia's defense team to call other witnesses to support her testimony, but gave the prosecution a free hand to call witnesses to try to refute her testimony.

    The prosecution claimed that Cynthia White had died in 1992, that therefore Pamela Jenkins had to be lying about seeing her in March of 1997. And, the prosecution said, this meant that all of Pamela Jenkins' testimony should be disregarded. To back up their claim, the prosecution put Homicide Detective Raleigh Witcher on the stand to testify that Cynthia White died in Camden, New Jersey during 1992. He said her death had been recorded under the name "Cynthia Williams, a\k\a Mildred Saunders." As evidence, Detective Witcher produced a printout of FBI computer data and a death certificate for "Cynthia Williams." He claimed that the FBI data "authenticated" a fingerprint match between the dead "Williams" and the missing Cynthia White.

    Judge Sabo accepted these claims as true.

    Then Mumia's defense team cross-examined Detective Witcher. It was quickly revealed that Det. Witcher had, in fact, not brought with him any proof that the fingerprints matched. The defense showed that Witcher's fishy "document" was, in fact, gathered from different sources to give the impression of a single official report which in fact never existed. The death certificate they produced for the 1992 death of "Cynthia Williams" had an official seal on the back that read "April 21, 1997."

    As the prosecution's "evidence" started to fall apart, the court announced that they would "reopen" the hearing for another day to examine more government "evidence." But on July 1, the prosecution was still unable to produce evidence connecting these fingerprints to Cynthia White. In fact, Mumia's defense team pointed out that the documents of the prosecution themselves proved that the fingerprints of the dead New Jersey woman were not the same as the fingerprints of Cynthia White.

    On the closing day of the hearing, it was also revealed that the FBI computer printout had said: "This response is not supported by fingerprint comparison." The prosecution had deleted this statement from the document they produced in Sabo's court.

    Furthermore, one witness admitted that the prosecution team had been searching for Cynthia White since 1995 and only came up with the death certificate for "Cynthia Williams" on about May 30, 1997--the very day that the State Supreme Court ordered the testimony of Pamela Jenkins to be heard in court.


    Before Sabo even came out with his ruling, Mumia's defense team had filed a legal brief protesting the fact that Sabo had not allowed the defense to present the evidence as mandated by the higher court. The brief is filled with even more evidence, which Sabo would not allow in court, supporting Pamela Jenkins' testimony, debunking the prosecution's story on Cynthia White and outlining a web of intrigue and police manipulation of records. The defense brief also ran down important testimony that Sabo had not allowed to be presented--including a statement by an eyewitness who corroborated Pamela Jenkins' statement that Thomas Ryan had told her there were several police officers on the scene when Mumia Abu-Jamal was shot and Daniel Faulkner was killed.

    The defense brief summed up: "By preventing the presentation of this defense evidence, quashing the defense subpoenas, and denying the defense discovery, even as the prosecution presented unauthenticated and partial documents and withheld clearly relevant evidence and information, this court has once again denied Petitioner the elementary ability to obtain a full and fair hearing on his claims."

    In his 20-page opinion, Judge Albert Sabo rejected every piece of testimony offered by Mumia's defense team and accepted every claim offered by the prosecution. His 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 Mumia a new trial.

    But Sabo cannot be allowed to suppress the story of police lies, intrigue, and corruption behind the railroad of Mumia Abu-Jamal. It is up to the people to get the truth out.

    This article is posted in English and Spanish on Revolutionary Worker Online
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