October 7, 2008 in Nation/World

Court rejects new trial for Abu-Jamal

 

The Supreme Court has rejected an appeal for a new trial for death row inmate Mumia Abu-Jamal, convicted in the 1981 killing of a Philadelphia police officer.

The justices did not comment on their action Monday, which leaves in place a federal appeals court ruling that upholds Abu-Jamal’s murder conviction but orders a new sentencing hearing.

Officer Daniel Faulkner was shot to death after pulling over Abu-Jamal’s brother in an traffic stop.

Prosecutors say Faulkner, 25, managed to shoot Abu-Jamal during the confrontation. A wounded Abu-Jamal, his own gun lying nearby, was still at the scene when police arrived, and authorities consider the evidence against him overwhelming.

Abu-Jamal, born Wesley Cook, has argued in numerous appeals that racism by the judge and prosecutors corrupted his 1982 conviction at the hands of a mostly white jury. Prosecutors, meanwhile, had appealed a federal judge’s 2001 decision to grant Abu-Jamal a new sentencing hearing because of flawed jury instructions.

LOS ANGELES

Six found dead in gated community

Los Angeles police say a father who was despondent over finances killed five family members and himself over the weekend in an upscale home.

Deputy Chief Michel Moore says the other victims were the man’s wife, three children and mother-in-law. He says the shootings happened sometime after 6 p.m. Saturday and the bodies were discovered Monday morning.

Their names have not been released. Police say the 45-year-old father was unemployed and previously worked at an accounting firm and Sony Pictures. He left two suicide letters. The children were ages 19, 12 and 7.

The home is in a gated community in the San Fernando Valley, about 23 miles northwest of downtown but still within Los Angeles city limits. The bodies were found after officers were asked to check on the residents.

ATLANTIC CITY, N.J.

Casino smoking ban could see delay

With the economy crumbling and revenues plunging, Atlantic City may put off the Oct. 15 start of a blanket ban on smoking in casinos to avoid further losses.

The ban, opposed by casino owners but supported by workers, was approved in April. The City Council is scheduled Wednesday to consider a delay.

“Smoking is not healthy. Smoking kills people,” said Bob McDevitt, president of the city’s largest casino workers union, Unite-Here Local 54. “So does job loss, unemployment and the threat of foreclosure. People will lose their ability to feed their families.”

But Jennifer Guillermain, an 18-year supervisor at Caesars Atlantic City, said many workers in the city’s 11 casinos feel betrayed by the possibility of postponement. They will turn out in force at Wednesday night’s meeting to try to persuade the council to keep the ban in place, she said.

“These greedy casino owners sit up in their smoke-free offices, and we’re the ones dying for their bonuses,” Guillermain said. “Enough is enough.”

SAN FRANCISCO

‘Bride,’ ‘groom’ to return to forms

California health officials say the words “bride” and “groom” will reappear on marriage license applications starting next month.

In a notice posted on its Web site, the California Department of Public Health says many couples still wanted the option of identifying themselves in traditional terms.

When same-sex marriage became legal in the state on June 16, new marriage forms were issued with “Party A” and “Party B” where “bride” and “groom” used to be.

The new paperwork will have space for applicants’ names next to optional boxes for checking “bride” or “groom.”

From wire reports

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