[Pnews] Philly prosecutors discover mysterious ‘six boxes’ connected to Mumia Abu-Jamal in storage room
ppnews at freedomarchives.org
Thu Jan 10 11:04:37 EST 2019
Philly prosecutors discover mysterious ‘six boxes’ connected to Mumia
Abu-Jamal in storage room
* Bobby Allyn <https://whyy.org/person/bobby-allyn/>- January 9, 2019
Days after Christmas, Philadelphia District Attorney Larry Krasner and
some of his assistants went rummaging around an out-of-the-way storage
room in the office looking for some pieces of furniture. What they
stumbled upon was a surprising find: six boxes stuffed of files
connected to the case of convicted cop killer Mumia Abu-Jamal.
Five of the six boxes were marked “McCann,” a reference to the former
head of the office’s homicide unit, Ed McCann. Some of the boxes were
also marked “Mumia,” or the former Black Panther’s full name, “Mumia
It is unknown what exactly the files say and whether or not the box’s
contents will shed new light on a case that for decades has garnered
But in a letter to the judge presiding over Abu-Jamal’s case, Assistant
District Attorney Tracey Kavanagh wrote “nothing in the Commonwealth’s
database showed the existence of these six boxes,” she said. “We are in
the process of reviewing these boxes.”
The surprise discovery comes just weeks after a Philadelphia judge
reinstated appeals rights
to Abu-Jamal, saying the former radio journalist and activist should get
another chance to reargue his case in front of the Pennsylvania Supreme
Court due to a conflict-of-interest one of the justices had at the time
Abu-Jamal’s petition was denied.
are seizing on the mysterious six boxes as proof that his innocence has
been systematically suppressed by authorities.
“There’s no question in my mind that the only reason they could’ve been
hidden like this is that this is the evidence of the frame-up of Mumia,”
said Rachel Wolkenstein, who has been a legal advocate and activist for
Abu-Jamal for more than 30 years.
“What these missing boxes represent is confirmation of what we’ve known
for decades: there’s hidden, exculpatory evidence in Mumia’s case, and
that is evidence that Mumia’s guilt was intentionally manufactured by
the police and prosecution and the truth of his innocence was
suppressed,” Wolkenstein said.
The Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office did not say anything at all
about what is in the boxes, or whether there is evidence that the files
are exculpatory, or capable of demonstrating that Abu-Jamal did not
commit a crime. During his original trial three separate eyewitnesses
testified Mumia did commit the murder of Philadelphia Police Officer
Wolkenstein’s assessment is wild speculation, according to Ed McCann,
the former homicide unit chief whose name was scrawled across the six
boxes. McCann left the office in 2015 after 26 years there as a
prosecutor. He was never directly involved in Abu-Jamal’s case.
“I can’t tell you 100% what is in these boxes,” McCann said Wednesday
night. “But I doubt there is anything in them that is not already in the
How and why did six boxes tied to one of the most legendary and
racially-charged cases the office has ever handled get relegated to a
dusty storage room?
McCann is not sure. But he said when the office moved locations in 2006,
hundreds of boxes with his name written them were moved into the current
headquarters on South Penn Square, just across the street from
Philadelphia City Hall.
“I don’t remember these six boxes. But nobody over there discussed this
with me before filing this letter,” McCann said. “I would think if they
were really interested in what happened, they would have reached out to me.”
In the two-page letter to the court, assistant district attorney
Kavanagh wrote that if Judge Leon Tucker would like to review the boxes,
prosecutors will turn them over.
Tucker, who is the same judge who ordered that Abu-Jamal should be given
a new appeals argument, has not weighed in on the newly-discovered boxes.
But in his opinion last month, Tucker said former Pennsylvania Supreme
Court Justice Ronald Castille should have recused himself from hearing
Abu-Jamal’s petitions, since Castille himself was Philadelphia’s
District Attorney when the case was actively on appeal. “True justice
must be completely just without even a hint of partiality, lack of
integrity or impropriety,” wrote Tucker, saying a new hearing in front
of the state’s high court is warranted.
Prosecutors have not taken a position yet on Tucker’s opinion. The files
unearthed in the six boxes could influence whether Krasner’s office
supports or opposes a new hearing for Abu-Jamal.
Wolkenstein said the thousands of people who have joined the “Free
Mumia” movement around the globe should be able to review the documents
“These files should be released publicly,” Wolkenstein said. “The remedy
for this is nothing less than dismissal of Mumia’s charges and his
release from prison.”
Philly D.A.’s Office finds file boxes in Abu-Jamal case
by Robert Moran <http://www.philly.com/archive/robert_moran/>,
Updated: January 9, 2019- 9:53 PM
The Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office has informed a judge that
prosecutors have found six boxes of files in the case of convicted
cop-killer /*(sic)*/ Mumia Abu-Jamal that may be significant to his
appeals effort. Or, they could just be copies of existing documents.
In a Jan. 3 letter to Common Pleas Court Judge Leon W. Tucker, Assistant
District Attorney Tracey Kavanagh wrote that the boxes were discovered
Dec. 28, a day after Tucker ruled that Abu-Jamal can reargue an appeal
before the Pennsylvania Supreme Court.
In his 36-page decision filed Dec. 27, Tucker noted that prosecutors had
failed to produce two documents they were obligated to preserve while
Abu-Jamal’s appeals were active. The unavailability of the documents
could be prejudicial to Abu-Jamal, but the prosecutors' conduct was not
egregious, Tucker said.
Kavanagh wrote in the Jan. 3 letter that the District Attorney’s Office
was reviewing the contents of the six boxes and the judge was welcome to
take a look, too.
Ben Waxman, spokesperson for District Attorney Larry Krasner, said
Wednesday in an email that the boxes were being made available for
review to Abu-Jamal’s lawyers. The letter was released to the media
Kavanagh explained that on Dec. 28, “the D.A. and members of his staff
went to a remote and largely inaccessible room of the District
Attorney’s Office marked ‘Storage,' looking for office furniture.”
They discovered the boxes, which were labeled with variations of
Abu-Jamal’s name and were designated as “18/29, 21/29, 23/29, 24/29,
29/29. The sixth had no numbering."
Five of the boxes also were marked with the name “McCann.” Edward McCann
was a high-level supervisor in the District Attorney’s Office who left
the office in 2015.
Kavanagh wrote: “This means the Commonwealth’s prior representations
that it had produced the complete file for this Court’s review in this
case were incorrect, although those representations were based upon a
diligent search and were accurate to the best of the Commonwealth’s
knowledge at the time.”
Prosecutors had previously delivered to the court what they said was
their complete file in the Abu-Jamal case, which included 32 boxes with
each being marked as “1 of 31, 2 of 32, 3 of 32, etc.”
Lawyers for Abu-Jamal did not immediately respond to a request for
comment Wednesday night. McCann declined to comment on the development.
In his ruling, Tucker wrote that Abu-Jamal can reargue his appeal
because former Supreme Court Chief Justice Ronald D. Castille did not
recuse himself due to his prior role as Philadelphia district attorney
when Abu-Jamal was appealing his case.
Abu-Jamal, 64, a former Black Panther and sometime radio reporter, is
serving a life sentence for the Dec. 9, 1981, shooting death of
Philadelphia Police Officer Daniel Faulkner, 25, at 13th and Locust Streets.
/Staff writer Chris Palmer contributed to this article/
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