Mumia Abu-Jamal's attorneys charged the Philadelphia District Attorney's Office with "faking the death" of key prosecution witness Cynthia White in legal briefs filed today in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit and last Friday in the Pennsylvania Supreme Court. The attorneys argue in the briefs that, "As the frame-up of Mumia Abu-Jamal is increasingly coming apart at the seams, the District Attorney in her desperation to keep the evidence which proves Mumia's innocence from being heard has now gone so far as to resurrect the hoax of Cynthia White's supposed death." According to Mumia's attorneys, during 1997 state court hearings before Judge Sabo the District Attorneys' Office tried to pass off three stapled together pages from three different documents as an official New Jersey death certificate for Cynthia White.
The name on the death certificate was "Cynthia Williams, aka Mildred Saunders," and the Social Security number turned out to belong to a woman named Migdalia Cruz who was born in Puerto Rico in 1957. When challenged to provide fingerprint evidence that the dead body was actually that of Cynthia White, the D.A. called as a witness a New Jersey police officer who brought into court a fingerprint card with the dead woman's fingerprints. But the officer admitted on cross-examination that the fingerprint identifiers did not correspond to Cynthia White's fingerprints. In other words, the fingerprint evidence proved that the dead woman was not Cynthia White. In their legal briefs, Mumia's attorneys argue that the District Attorney recently injected the hoax of Cynthia White's death into Mumia's appeals in a desperate attempt to keep the evidence which proves Mumia's innocence out of the courtroom and, specifically, to defeat their motion to send the case back to Common Pleas Judge Pamela Dembe to take testimony in open court from Yvette Williams.
Williams, in a sworn statement recently filed in Mumia's state and federal appeals, says that she was in jail with Cynthia White in December 1981 soon after Police Officer Daniel Faulkner was killed and that White told Williams the police forced her to testify that Mumia had shot Faulkner even though White did not see the shooting. According to Williams, Cynthia White was in the area of 13th and Locust when the shooting took place, but was high on drugs and did not see the shooting. In other developments, eminent California attorney Michael Yamamoto filed a "friend of the court" brief in the federal court of appeals in Philadelphia supporting Mumia's claim that he is innocent of the murder of Officer Faulkner. According to Yamamoto, his own independent review of the evidence reveals that Mumia Abu-Jamal was "wrongfully convicted based upon the testimony of unreliable witnesses, all of whom were either inherently suspect at the outset or subsequently shown to be testifying falsely."
Yamamoto concludes that the evidence at trial, when combined with the new evidence that has recently come out, "can be shown to overwhelmingly support" Mumia Abu-Jamal's innocence. Yamamoto is the immediate past president of the California Attorneys for Criminal Justice, a specialized bar association of over 2,000 of California's top criminal defense attorneys. He was recently appointed to the California Judicial Council's task force on jury improvement by the Chief Justice of the California Supreme Court.