THE DEATH-PENALTY debate may be over for Mumia Abu-Jamal, but the controversy over the case will probably live longer than the 57-year-old cop-killer does. Here's a quick summary of what they're saying on both sides.
Why he should be free:
* Abu-Jamal supporters insist
there's plenty of reasonable doubt whether the one-time radio journalist killed 25-year-old officer Daniel Faulkner in 1981. They point, for example, to a mysterious fourth man they claim was at the crime scene - Kenneth Freeman, whose driver's license application they argue was found in Faulkner's pocket. Freeman can't be interrogated about what happened because he died in 1995.
* They have also attempted to
cast doubt on eyewitnesses who insist they saw Abu-Jamal shoot Faulkner during the Dec. 9, 1981, traffic stop of Abu-Jamal's brother, William Cook. They argue, for example, that cabdriver Robert Chobert could not have seen what he testified to because his vehicle was pointed the other direction.
* Abu-Jamal backers have faulted the police investigation of the case, arguing that the guns at the crime scene, including the one in the possession of Abu-Jamal, were mishandled by the officers after they arrived.
* There is the question of whether Abu-Jamal received a fair trial in
1982; the judge in the case, Albert Sabo (who died in 2002), had a reputation as pro-law-enforcement, and his demeanor at the trial came under fire at times.
* Backers say Abu-Jamal is a thoughtful social critic and author
who shouldn't die in prison.
Why he should be in jail for life:
* The forensic evidence that Abu-Jamal shot Faulkner is compelling. Officers who responded to the shooting at 13th and Locust streets in Center City found a wounded Abu-Jamal with a .38-caliber revolver with five spent shell casings; the gun was matched to the bullet that killed Faulkner.
* Three eyewitnesses testified at the trial that they saw Abu-Jamal or someone who looked just like him approach Faulkner and shoot him - the cabdriver Chobert, prostitute Cynthia White and motorist Michael Scanlan.
* Advocates for Abu-Jamal's guilt say his defenders' claims often
fall apart under scrutiny; the license application they've linked to Freeland was supposedly lost by someone else inside friend William Cook's car before Faulkner pulled it over.
* Abu-Jamal had the chance of a lifetime to present his case at the
original trial in 1982, but he essentially disowned the defense lawyer assigned to him and pleaded to have John Africa, the founder of the radical group MOVE, represent him instead. He did not testify at the trial.
* Detractors say Abu-Jamal is a cop-killer who should never taste