Running From The Truth – Maureen Faulkner

Published December 8 – 14, 1999Village Voice

by Maureen Faulkner, widow of Mumia Abu Jamal murder victim, Daniel Faulkner

Of all the one-sided, useless articles written over the years about my husband’s murder, Peter Noel’s "The Fleeing Man" [November 16] will be filed near the top. Mr. Noel obviously did no research whatsoever. Not being a regular reader of The Village Voice, I can only hope that his article is not representative of your paper. Regurgitating the unfounded, disproved, and fictional allegations of phantom shooters, along with the charges of rampant police and prosecutorial misconduct presented to the court by Mumia Abu-Jamal’s attorneys, without doing a critical review of the facts is not journalism. It’s propaganda. Had Mr. Noel looked at my Web site ( ), he would have realized that his "Fleeing Man" theory is easily exposed for the fraud that it is with the witnesses’ own testimony.

Let’s start with William Singletary. Mr. Noel suggests that Singletary is a credible eyewitness who saw a man other than Abu-Jamal shoot my husband and flee the scene. Yet Abu-Jamal’s current attorney, Leonard Weinglass, had this to say about Mr. Singletary and his story at the 1995 Post-Conviction Relief Act appeals hearing: "This is a witness… whose recollection of what happened on the night in question we believe to be not entirely accurate. We believe his recollection today is not entirely accurate. We believe his recollection which was given in a sworn statement in 1990 was not entirely accurate."

It’s not difficult to see why Mr. Weinglass feels Mr. Singletary’s version of events is not accurate. Singletary claims that he spoke to my husband and then saw him shoot Abu-Jamal in the chest—after my husband had been shot point-blank between the eyes. According to medical experts, my husband’s death was instantaneous. Singletary also saw a police helicopter hovering overhead. Big problem. The Philadelphia Police Department had no helicopter in 1981 and nobody else among the dozens of other people at the crime scene saw a helicopter. Additionally, Mr. Singletary admitted to a highway patrol officer at the scene— who Singletary characterized as a "personal friend"—that he was not a witness to the shooting. Singletary stated: "I heard the shots, but I didn’t see what happened." Finally, Singletary never told anyone about the alleged intimidation and abuse he now claims he suffered at the hands of the police until nearly 10 years after the 1982 trial. Like several other defense "witnesses," Singletary suddenly remembered this police intimidation after he first met with Abu-Jamal’s current attorneys in the early 1990s. But to substantiate the "Fleeing Man" fairy tale, Mr. Noel accepts Mr. Singletary as credible—despite the fact that no less than a dozen appellate court judges and Abu-Jamal’s own attorney have found him not to be.

Next, Mr. Noel suggests that Deborah Kordansky, a woman living in a hotel nearby, saw the real killer run from the scene. However, at the 1995 appeals hearing, when Ms. Kordansky was asked by Mr. Weinglass if the man she had seen running was the killer, she stated that he was not. She explained that after hearing the shots while she was watching TV, she didn’t go to the window to see what was happening until she was drawn there by the flashing lights of police cars because she had thought that the shots were simply "firecrackers." Then, "after police and news crews had arrived," she looked down on the crime scene and saw "several people running." She specifically stated that they were not running away but were running as part of the chaotic scene. She stated: "I saw someone running…. I didn’t say away." She stated further: "There was a man killed, there’s panic. Someone was running, maybe two people are running. Maybe three people are running, you know. There’s police, there’s news crews, etc." But Mr. Noel is content to print the defense’s twisted, self-serving version of Ms. Kordansky’s testimony without reviewing it for himself.

Regarding Dessie Hightower, also invoked by Noel, much has been made about his failed polygraph. However, the real issue with Hightower is his original statement to police and his 1982 testimony. Hightower admittedly was over 150 feet from the shooting in a parking lot behind a building, getting into a car with his friend Robert Pigford when he heard what he at first thought were firecrackers. He waited "for several minutes, until the last shot was fired," and then he and Pigford ran around the corner to see what had happened. When asked by police at the crime scene to physically identify Abu-Jamal as the shooter, Hightower said: "I couldn’t say, because I didn’t see the officer actually shot." Hightower did say that "for a second or two" he saw a person run in the opposite direction from him. He said that the person he saw—obviously a different person than Kordansky saw—was "wearing a red-and-black striped sweater, with dreadlocks… maybe 5’9" or 5’10"." Several eyewitnesses to my husband’s murder said that Mumia Abu-Jamal ran a few feet after he shot my husband in the head (in what would have been the opposite direction of the position in which Mr. Hightower was standing) and that Abu-Jamal then fell to the ground, where he was apprehended by police. Guess what the dreadlocked, 5’10" Abu-Jamal was wearing that morning? A red-and-black striped jacket. Dessie Hightower did see the shooter run. The shooter’s name was Mumia Abu-Jamal.

Conspicuously absent from Noel’s list of witnesses presented by the defense in 1995 was Robert Harkins—who undoubtedly was an eyewitness to the murder. In fact, Mr. Weinglass places him "closest to the shooting." Though Harkins filed a witness statement the morning of the shooting, he was not called by either side to testify in 1982. For 15 years, Harkins refused to speak to either side. Then, in 1995, the defense put Harkins on the stand under the guise of asking him about photos of suspects the police had allegedly shown him. Dan Williams, one of Abu-Jamal’s attorneys, asked Harkins what had happened. Harkins said the shooter stood over my husband as he lay wounded, unarmed, and helpless on the sidewalk, shot him point-blank in the face, and then "walked and sat down on the curb." The stunned Mr. Williams asked Harkins: "The guy that done the shooting walked and sat down on the curb?" Harkins replied: "Yes, on the pavement." Harkins’s testimony corroborates the testimony of the four prosecution eyewitnesses (including Cynthia White, mentioned by Noel, who allegedly was coerced by police), and completely destroys Mr. Noel’s "Fleeing Man" theory. But not a word of Harkins in Noel’s article.

Finally, in 1998, after reviewing the actual facts of my husband’s murder for more than three years, the nine-member Supreme Court of Pennsylvania unanimously agreed that there was no credible evidence or testimony pointing to Abu-Jamal’s innocence. It also unanimously confirmed the fairness of the trial proceedings and the appropriateness of Judge Albert Sabo’s conduct when he tried to maintain order in his courtroom during the relentless and contemptuous temper tantrums and disruptions by Abu-Jamal. In its decision, the Supreme Court also chastised Abu-Jamal’s attorneys no less than half a dozen times, stating that "Appellant’s recitation of the trial evidence was distorted or incomplete." The Supreme Court called the defense’s corruption and coercion evidence "absurd."

Apparently, none of this is important to Mr. Noel.

Maureen Faulkner
Los Angeles, California

visits since 12/12/99

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