8 février 2002

Nouveau Témoignage en faveur de Mumia Abu-Jamal

Abu-Jamal witness lied, woman says

By Robert Moran Inquirer Staff Writer

Lawyers for Mumia Abu-Jamal say they have a second witness who swears that Cynthia White, a key prosecution witness, told her she was coerced by police to lie and say she saw the former Black Panther kill Officer Daniel Faulkner in 1981.

A similar claim was made by a defense witness in 1997.

In an affidavit filed in federal appeals court in Philadelphia this week, Yvette Williams - who shared a cell block with White, a prostitute, about 20 years ago - said White told her after the murder that she did not see Abu-Jamal shoot Faulkner.

She said White told her she had lied about the Abu-Jamal case because police "threatened her life." White, she said, also told her she was being paid by police to continue working as a prostitute. And she said detectives provided White with contraband in jail, such as cigarettes, candy, hoagies, syringes and "white powders."

Assistant District Attorney Hugh Burns yesterday called Williams' assertions "beyond belief."

Williams said she was in jail back then because police believed she had information about another homicide. She said she did not.

In the Abu-Jamal case, Williams said she "almost had a nervous breakdown over keeping quiet about this all these years." She said she feared police retaliation, but changed her mind about maintaining her silence when the case reemerged in the news in December. It was then that U.S. District Judge William H. Yohn Jr. overturned Abu-Jamal's death sentence but upheld his conviction. Among the defense arguments Yohn rejected was that White's testimony had been "manipulated" by police.

At a 1997 hearing on the case, another defense witness, Pamela Jenkins, testified that White had told her before Abu-Jamal's 1982 trial that she had been coerced by police to lie and say she had seen him shoot Faulkner.

Jenkins also testified that she saw White earlier in 1997 and urged her to meet with an investigator working for Abu-Jamal's lawyers.

Prosecutors then produced a New Jersey death warrant that said White had died in 1992. Police testified that White's fingerprints matched those of the dead woman.

Defense lawyers questioned whether White was dead, but they were unable to produce her in court.