Mumia Abu-Jamal, a convicted murderer whose case has become a cause celebre for Hollywood celebrities including Whoopi Goldberg, Martin Sheen and members of the band Rage Against the Machine, will not be executed, prosecutors in Philadelphia announced Wednesday.
Abu-Jamal will instead spend the rest of his life in prison.
In 1982, Abu-Jamal was convicted of shooting Philadelphia police officer Daniel Faulkner to death, and sentenced to death.
His case has since been the subject of an HBO documentary, the 1996 "Mumia Abu-Jamal: A Case For Reasonable Doubt?"
His supporters also include Michael Moore, Mike Farrell, Ed Asner and the Beastie Boys.
Since his conviction, Philadelphia District Attorney Seth Williams said in a written statement Wednesday, "courts have heard numerous appeals in this case, and a death warrant was even signed."
But for Abu-Jamal to be executed, there would have to be a new sentencing hearing. The DA chose against requesting such a hearing. That means Abu-Jamal's conviction stands, but that he will not be executed.
"Nearly three decades have passed since the trial, and eyewitnesses have died or become otherwise unavailable. In addition to subjecting the family members of officer Faulkner to the renewed anguish of reliving the horror of so many years ago, another penalty proceeding would open the case to repetition of the state appeals process, followed by an unknowable number of years of review in federal court again," according to the DA's statement.
The statement also included a comment from Faulkner's widow, criticizing Abu-Jamal's supporters.
"My family and I have endured a three-decade ordeal at the hands of Mumia Abu-Jamal, his attorneys and his supporters," Maureen Faulkner said, "who in many cases never even took the time to educate themselves about the case before lending their names, giving their support and advocating for his freedom."
While in prison, the former activist, radio journalist and one-time member of the Black Panther Party, has written extensively. He has been a columnist for the German Marxist newspaper Junge Welt and recorded a commencement address for Antioch College.